About the Roundtable
To make things move in Geneva, one needs the big players to take control, state what they want, and make clear what they are prepared to do to achieve it. In the past, it has been the United States who drove the agenda. Nothing of consequence was achieved without US leadership. Today, this is no longer the case. Such is the politically toxic nature of trade in the United States today, that the Office of the US Trade Representative has deemed a detached approach as the nation’s best course of action toward multilateral arrangements of a bygone era that it itself founded. Meantime, the rising heft of China’s unique state-centric economy – and its willingness to weaponize its commercial power – continue to challenge conventional structures of international governance designed more for market economies. As the world increasingly turns to trade protectionism, and plurilaterals emerge as an organic attempt to patch over the deep-seated differences at the WTO, where does the future for multilateralism hold?
About the Speaker
Keith M. Rockwell is a Senior Research Fellow at the Hinrich Foundation. Prior to his retirement in June 2022, Keith served as a Director at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and spokesperson for the organization for more than 25 years. He also is Global Fellow at the Wilson Center.
In his former role as Director of the WTO’s Media and External Relations Division, Keith worked closely with the Director General and his office to reflect the objectives and activities of the WTO. He was responsible for the overall coordination of the WTO’s interaction with media, civil society, parliamentarians, and the United Nations. He appeared regularly before media at press conferences, briefings, and television and radio appearances.
Keith received his Masters in Business Administration from George Washington University in 1991 and his Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science from Tufts University in 1980. In 1990, he authored 1992 and Beyond: How to Prosper in the World’s Biggest Market, which was published by Knight-Ridder Inc.
About the Moderator
Kaewkamol “Karen” Pitakdumrongkit is Head and Assistant Professor at the Centre for Multilateralism Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), U.S.A.
Her research interests include international economic negotiation, Indo-Pacific economic governance and integration, regional-global economic governance dynamics, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN’s external relations (ASEAN-Plus frameworks). She has published in various outlets such as The Singapore Economic Review, The International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, The Pacific Review, Australian Outlook, Review of International Political Economy, The Diplomat, and East Asia Forum. Her media interviews include Bangkok Post, Bloomberg, Business Times, Channel News Asia, CNBC Asia-Pacific, New Straits Times, The Strait Times, South China Morning Post, and Xinhua.
Besides publications and media engagement, Dr. Karen organized several capacity-building programmes such as the Annual RSIS-World Trade Organization (WTO) Parliamentarian Workshops in Singapore, and In-Country Workshops on Technical Trade Issues which are tailored to the specific needs of the trade officials in Asian countries. She was also part of the team involved in composing the elements of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025. In addition, Dr. Karen teaches modules at the RSIS MSc International Political Economy programme, and occasionally provides briefings to international diplomats and military students at Singapore’s Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College.