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UIBE WTO Chair was officially launched with a seminar on WTO MC12

On 8 April 2022, the newly appointed WTO Chair in the phase III of WTO Chairs Program (WCP), the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) hosted its online Launch Event and Seminar on WTO MC12, in collaboration with another WTO Chair at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics (SUIBE) and the Network for International Trade and Investment System (NITIS). DDG Xiangchen Zhang,Former DDG Xiaozhun Yi,  Director of the Division of WTO Chairs Program Dr. Werner Zdouc, Permanent Ambassador of Singapore and other countries to the WTO, Deputy Director of the WTO Department, Ministry of Commerce of China Mr. Chen Yusong, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the WTO Li Yihong, as well as nearly 200 experts and scholars from home and abroad attended the meeting.


In the first part of the conference, UIBE WTO Chair Launch Event was chaired by WTO Chairholder and Dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies at UIBE, Professor Xinquan Tu. Professor Junjie Hong, Vice President of UIBE introduced the history and contributions of UIBE in the area of WTO studies in China. On behalf of the university authority, he declared strong support for the functioning of the WTO Chair financially and practically.

In the inaugural remarks made by WTO DDG Xiangchen Zhang, he reviewed the history of interaction between WCP and Chinese research institutes and academics. He praised that UIBE is the front runner of WTO studies in China. He mentioned that today many emerging topics were brought by developing members in the WTO, and the academic research from scholars contributed hugely to the decision-making process in WTO negotiations. As he said, “a single spark can start a prairie fire”. The WCP network would bring more inspirations to WTO members and the Secretariat would continue to support UIBE WTO Chair in the future.

The Director of the Division of WTO Chairs Program, Dr. Werner Zdouc gave his warm welcome to UIBE on behalf of the WCP team. He also expressed his gratitude to the WCP funding members and all the people who have been devoted to the WCP in the last 10 years. He was so glad to see that the WCP family was growing bigger and he was determined that more members from developing countries would join the program. Permanent Representative of France to the WTO Etienne Oudot de Dainville, WCP Advisory Board Member Professor Henry GAO, WTO Chairholder in Indonesia Professor Riza Arfani also warmly welcomed UIBE to join the WCP family, introduced relevant experience and practices, and hoped that China could work closely with more research institutions from developing countries, and encourage them to join the WCP and provide more practical ideas for WTO reform.

Deputy Director of the WTO Department, Ministry of Commerce of China, Mr. Chen Yusong, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the WTO Li Yihong both stressed China's determination to firmly uphold multilateralism and active role in the WTO negotiations on several issues. They hope that after joining the WCP chair program, UIBE can better promote the cooperation between research institutions in China and other countries, jointly commit to the research and development in the field of WTO, and contribute more Chinese wisdom to the world economic development.


Followed by the launch event, a seminar on WTO MC12 was moderated by Professor Lei Zhang, WTO Chairholder at SUIBE. Permanent Representative of Singapore to the WTO Hung Seng Tan, Permanent Representative of Chile to the WTO Matthias Francke, Permanent Representative of Columbia to the WTO Santiago Wills, Director of World Trade Institute of University of Bern Professor Peter van den Bossche, Director of WTO Intellectual Property Division Antony Taubman gave policy briefings respectively on the topics of E-commerce, investment facilitation for development, fisheries, dispute settlement, as well as trade related intellectual property rights.

Hung Seng Tan said due to differences among parties, no breakthrough has been made in the multilateral negotiations on e-commerce yet, but substantive progress has been made in the plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce in many areas such as electronic signature, verification, and online consumer protection.

Matthias Francke mentioned that investment facilitation negotiations have played a significant role in promoting the development of WTO members. And China has been both a participant and coordinator of the negotiations, so its support is very important.

Santiago Wills urged all the members to take on their responsibility to address domestic fisheries subsidies. He sincerely hoped that during the time of MC12, members could work on together to reach a final agreement on this issue.

Prof. Peter van den Bossche did not think that members would agree on any proposals to reform DSB, but there have been strong calls to revive the reform of the appellate body.

Antony Taubman pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a huge challenge to global trade, and the matter of intellectual property rights in TRIPS Waiver is of great concern.

In the end, the Senior Advisor to the WTO Chair at UIBE Dr. Maarten Smeets and Former DDG of WTO, Chief Advisor of NITIS, Mr. Xiaozhun Yi gave concluding remarks. Mr. Yi believed that all the efforts we made today would help maintain and strengthen the multilateral trading system, and in doing so the WCP has provided great opportunities for Chinese academics to communicate with the world.