Lecture Abstract: Multilateral concepts and systems continue to face a difficult environment across the range of global issues from climate change to security. Major powers are either failing to show leadership or leading in directions which compromise the sustainability of the multilateral structures that have encouraged international co-operation and stability. Based on recent experience in the trade and economic spheres, this presentation suggests that smaller players can go a long way towards filling the leadership gap, especially when they act together and combine their influence. The Asia-Pacific region provides the most impressive examples of this different kind of leadership, ranging from the current effort by a number of regional governments to save the TPP to Singapore’s contributions to keeping multilateral trade negotiations alive. Whether plurilateral or multilateral in their immediate focus, these initiatives all have in common a continuing commitment to co-operative models of international relations. Though no-one pretends that they can substitute fully for positive involvement by the big players, their effectiveness should not be undervalued. The activism of the smaller countries has always been important, but in the current situation it has become essential.
About the Speaker: Evan Rogerson retired from the WTO Secretariat at the end of March 2017, having held senior positions there for more than twenty years. He joined the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1976 after graduating in history from Auckland University and initially worked in defence cooperation, then in economic relations. Secondment at the Treasury preceded postings in Brussels and London. His work in those postings focused on trade policy, particularly New Zealand’s relations with the EU and access to the European market. After a period as External Relations Manager for the NZ Dairy Board in London, he joined the GATT Secretariat in 1986, working in the Agriculture Division on the Uruguay Round negotiations before moving to the Director-General’s Office in 1993. His role here ranged from speechwriting to policy advice. As Director of the DG’s Office and Chief of Staff to WTO Director-General Renato Ruggiero from 1995 to 1999, he was closely involved with the WTO’s first Ministerial Conference in Singapore in 1996. Among many other roles during this time he acted as the WTO’s G-8 sherpa and coordinated the GATT/WTO’s 50th anniversary ministerial in 1998 which brought together world leaders including Presidents Clinton, Castro and Mandela. He worked closely with Director-General Mike Moore to prepare the launch of the new Round at Doha in 2001. From 2002 he headed the Council and TNC Division, servicing the WTO’s top committees and Ministerial Conferences. In 2012 he came back to the Agriculture and Commodities Division as Director. In this role he was also Secretary of the negotiating group on Agriculture. In 2015 he led the team that prepared the agreement to abolish agricultural export subsidies reached by Ministers at Nairobi that year.