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everything possible / Shutterstock.com


Our Mission


The multilateral trade regime is facing challenges. These include sustaining the open, rules-based trading system that is embodied in the WTO, responding to rising protectionist pressures and anti-free trade rhetoric, managing the consequences of structural changes in the world economy, and a shift by major countries towards negotiating and expanding regional trade agreements (RTAs) that pose challenges to the multilateral trading system and are diverting attention away from multilateral cooperation. It is vital that solutions to these challenges are found in order to preserve the multilateral trading system that lies at the heart of world trade governance and to ensure that trade can continue to be a driver of development, growth and prosperity.


The Global Economic Dynamics Project (GED) of the Bertelsmann Stiftung has brought together a small group of distinguished practitioners and experts to consider incremental and feasible approaches to both sustain and revitalize multilateral trade cooperation. The High-Level Board of Experts on the Future of Trade Governance will focus on the future of the multilateral trading system, its coexistence with regional trade regimes and practical paths forward that build on what already exists.


The Board held an initial meeting in Geneva on May 9-10 to identify a work agenda. The output will include a series of practical recommendations and papers in time for the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference, culminating in a main report to be finalized in early 2018.


Our Agenda


The Board’s report will draw on the perspectives and experience of the Board members. In addition to this report, the Board will draft or commission a number of papers on specific aspects of the challenges and opportunities that confront the trading system. Drafts of background papers will be made publically available once they have been dicussed and reviewed. These papers will address the following subjects:


  • Strengthening the WTO: A Synthesis of Existing Research and Critiques
  • Implications of the Changing Structure of World Trade for Political Economy Dynamics and Governance of the Multilateral Trading System
  • Improving Institutional Learning in the WTO
  • Building Multilateralism on Plurilateral Initiatives


These papers are commissioned by the Bertelsmann Stiftung on behalf of the Board and are written by established experts in their fields. They do not form part of the Board’s own work but are intended to inform its discussions and contribute to a better understanding of opportunities and the challenges that must be addressed.


Who We Are


Members of the Board


Chard P. Bown


Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute of International Economics


Andreas Esche


Director, Program Shaping Sustainable Economies, Bertelsmann Stiftung


Lionel Fontagné


Professor of Economics, Paris School of Economics University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne


Bernard Hoekman (Chairman)


Robert Schuman Chair and Research Area Director “Global Economics: Trade, Investment and Development”, European University Institute


Stephen Karingi


Director, Capacity Development Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa


Robert Koopman


Chief Economist and Director of the Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization (WTO)


Margaret Liang


Consultant to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for WTO/Trade Issues; Adjunct Senior Fellow, Rajaratnam School of International Studies, National Technological University, Singapore


Aik Hoe Lim


Director of the Trade and Environment Division,  World Trade Organization (WTO)


Xiankun Lu


Director, China Competence Centre, St. Gallen University of Switzerland; Associate Partner, IDEAS Centre


Aaditya Mattoo


Research Manager Trade and Integration, World Bank


Mari Pangestu


Professor, Columbia University and University of Indonesia


Angelos Pangratis


Advisor Hors Classe for the European Economic Diplomacy and Ex-EU Ambassador to the WTO, European External Action Service


Miriam Sapiro


Ambassador, Partner, Finsbury


Marietje Schaake


Member of European Parliament


Harsha Vardhana Singh


Executive Director, Brookings India




Bernard Hoekman (bernard.hoekman@eui.eu), Chairman of the High-Level Board of Experts

Andreas Esche (andreas.esche@bertelsmann-stiftung.de), Co-Director of the Shaping Sustainable Economies Program of the Bertelsmann Stiftung

Ulrich Schoof (ulrich.schoof@bertelsmann-stiftung.de), Project Leader of the Global Economic Dynamics Team of the Bertelsmann Stiftung

Christian Bluth (christian.bluth@bertelsmann-stiftung.de), Rapporteur of the High-Level Board of Experts