A World Trade Organization for the 21st Century: The Asian Perspective
2016 is an important year for Asia’s trade after a busy 2015. Late 2015 agreement saw agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Philippines hosting the APEC 2015 Leaders Summit. The WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi was also held to finish the long running WTO Doha Round by building on The “Bali Package” of trade facilitation and other measures. Nonetheless, the world trading system, led by the 20 year old World Trade Organization (WTO), is under pressure to evolve and address 21st century trade issues. Meanwhile, economically important Asia has built deep supply chains, whilst experimenting with mega-regional trade agreements and economic policies to sustain growth amid new “normal” world growth beset by risks. The US-led TPP and the Asian-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are competing to set standards for Asia’s trade and supply chains. Lessons from the Asian experience offer new approaches and economic policies to sustain growth, with the possibility that the WTO could emerge as a forum for action to improve global and regional trade governance in the 21st century. This seminar draws on the findings of a book edited by Richard Baldwin, Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja entitled A World Trade Organization for the 21st Century: The Asian Perspective. The seminar also provides an opportunity to discuss the current situation of the world trading system more broadly and assess the lessons from the experiences of Asia and other regions.
Ganeshan Wignaraja is Advisor in the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department of the Asian Development Bank. He served as Director of Research of the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo from 2012 to April 2015. Previously, he was a principal economist at the Asian Development Bank, a manager in a UK economics consulting firm, and a chief programme officer at the Commonwealth Secretariat. He has represented the Asian Development Bank on the WTO Director-General’s Advisory Group on Aid for Trade, at APEC and ASEAN senior officials meetings, and on the Advisory Group for setting up the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). He has also held research positions at Oxford University, the OECD and the United Nations Institute for New Technologies. Dr Wignarja holds a doctorate in economics from Oxford University and a BSc. in economics from the London School of Economics. He has published 15 books on trade, competitiveness, regional integration, development finance and economic development.