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Multilateral / WTO

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the guardian of the multilateral trade rules. Having emerged in 1995 from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that initially only covered trade in goods, the WTO has since developed rules that cover every aspect of international trade, for instance services and intellectual property rights. It also administers international agreements and hosts an unprecedented dispute settlement procedure.

Currently under the Doha Development Agenda, the WTO and its 161 members are working towards the revision of trade rules and an improved market access, although with slow progress. BusinessEurope remains a strong advocate of the WTO. However, in a constantly changing economic landscape, characterised by global value chains and the impact of the financial crisis on international trade, it is crucial that the WTO becomes a modern organisation that is effectively responding to these challenges. The successful 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013, in particular the adoption of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, gave impetus to the Doha Round negotiations and raised expectations about the possibility of concluding a market access agreement.

BusinessEurope supports a WTO work programme that:

  • Focuses on the conclusion of the Doha Round negotiations, achieving ambitious elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers;
  • Looks beyond the Doha Round negotiations towards the conclusion of plurilateral agreements, for instance on services or information and technology, as well as into other trade-related areas such as competition, investment or export restrictions.


Press releases Date
WTO Ministerial finds interim solution on e-commerce 01/03/2024
WTO Ministerial - the agreement keeps alive the multilateral trading system 17/06/2022
WTO reform requires commitment from all its members 24/11/2021
Airbus-Boeing tariff suspension important step towards a solution 05/03/2021
New WTO Director-General should bring fresh energy, optimism and trust 14/02/2021
What trade can do for climate: More than carbon border adjustments 23/06/2020
Collapse of WTO Appellate Body: BusinessEurope Council of Presidents calls for urgent action 06/12/2019
Gattaz: "We must avoid the collapse of the WTO Appellate Body" 07/10/2019
Airbus/Boeing dispute: tariffs are the wrong answer 02/10/2019
Reforming the WTO: this is a now or never moment 02/10/2018
US duties – Bad news for the World Economy 31/05/2018
EU and US need to work together on key international issues like trade and sanctions 13/02/2018
11th WTO Ministerial Conference: business calls for a strong WTO, against protectionism, for the benefit of all 04/12/2017
Position papers Date
Global industry statement on the WTO Moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions 02/02/2024
International business priorities for the 13th WTO Ministerial 01/02/2024
Business priorities for the 12th WTO Ministerial - Joint statement from BusinessEurope and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 07/06/2022
Business urges WTO members to continue negotiations and commitment to achieve results 02/12/2021
European business priorities for a successful 12th WTO Ministerial Conference 24/11/2021
Multi-industry statement on cross-border data flows and data localisation in WTO negotiations on e-commerce 26/01/2021
What trade can do for climate - a BusinessEurope position paper 22/06/2020
The trilateral discussions between the EU, Japan and the USA need to deliver concrete proposals that restore the global playing field with regard to market-distortive practices - Joint statement by BUSINESSEUROPE, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce & Keidanren 14/01/2020
Joint business statement in support of the WTO reform 02/04/2019
Business groups: Urgent action needed to reform the WTO 23/10/2018
Reinvigorating the WTO - Safeguarding a strong and effective multilateral trading system 02/10/2018
A strong WTO: against protectionism, for the benefit of all 01/12/2017
Public letters Date
TRIPs waiver extension - Letter from Markus J. Beyrer to Valdis Dombrovskis 29/09/2022
TRIPs waiver - Letter from Markus J. Beyrer to Valdis Dombrovskis 06/04/2022
Response to the Covid-19 pandemic and TRIPs waiver - Joint industry letter to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director-General 11/06/2021
Trade policy review - BusinessEurope contribution to the public consultation 13/11/2020
Airbus-Boeing case - Letter from Markus J. Beyrer to Roberto Azevêdo 13/07/2020
Global Business Community Urges Rapid Action on Ambitious WTO e-Commerce Framework 25/01/2019
Reports and studies Date
A trade strategy fit for the 21st century 29/04/2019


Sofia Bournou

Senior Adviser
+32 2 237 65 29

Elena Suárez Sánchez

Senior Adviser
+32 2 237 65 04
Last updated: 6 July 2016