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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.


Position papers Date
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
Post-Nairobi work programme of the WTO - a BusinessEurope discussion paper 04/04/2016
BusinessEurope recommendations for a future WTO post-Bali work programme 17/02/2015
WTO - BusinessEurope position on the Bali Ministerial conference (MC9) 29/11/2013
The Doha Round and the future of the WTO - a BusinessEurope position paper 12/12/2011
Press releases Date
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
EU launched third WTO case against China’s export restrictions of raw materials 19/07/2016
Implementation of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement put at risk 30/07/2014
WTO deal on trade facilitation will smooth global trade 07/12/2013
WTO ruling condemns unjustified Chinese export restrictions 31/01/2012
BusinessEurope-RSPP joint statement on the accession of Russia to the WTO 14/12/2011
WTO ruling condemns unjustified Chinese export restrictions 05/07/2011
Public letters Date
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
Suspension of negotiations on the expansion of the WTO Information Technology Agreement - Joint letter from BusinessEurope, DIGITALEUROPE, ESIA and SEMI to the government of the People's Republic of China 28/11/2013
Implementation by Russia of the WTO Accession Protocol and bilateral EU-Russia commitments - Letter from Philippe de Buck to Commissioner Karel De Gucht 27/11/2012
WTO 8th ministerial conference on 15 December 2011 in Geneva - Letter from President Jürgen R. Thumann to Commissioner Karel De Gucht 08/12/2011
Reports and studies Date
A trade strategy fit for the 21st century 29/04/2019
Speeches Date
The Partnership Summit 2011 "New partnerships for economic resurgence: the global imperative" - Speaking notes for Philippe de Buck in plenary session 1 "Global trade agreement: is multilateralism relevant?", Mumbai (India) 24/01/2011

Upcoming Events


The WTO General Council agreed late Friday (26 November) to postpone the imminent Ministerial Conference after an outbreak of a particularly transmissible strain of the COVID-19 virus led several...


Sofia Bournou

Senior Adviser
+32 2 237 65 29

Elena Suárez Sánchez

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