03 Sep 2010 - 04 Sep 2010, Silva Casa, World Trade Institute, Bern

The World Trade Forum 2010 'Trade Governance in the Digital Age'

This year's World Trade Forum (WTF), now in its 14th edition, will discuss the challenges and opportunities for global trade governance brought about by the advent and wide spread of digital technologies.

Digital technologies have had and continue to have profound effects on multiple facets of societal life and influence its dynamic evolution. The changes range from trivial online shopping to the very ways we create, distribute and access information − making distant geographical points within instantaneous reach, groups of million people organised within hours, and encyclopaedia and virtual libraries created on a collaborative basis. These changes have naturally triggered regulatory responses at all levels of governance that affect to a different degree the existing regimes for telecommunications, audiovisual media services, copyright, cultural policy and human rights protection measures. Because of the inherent ‘globalness’ of the digital environment, many of the solutions essentially need to be designed at the global level. International economic law has so far not reacted in a forward-looking manner to the digital challenges but has only been catching up with the developments in some discrete fields, and this mostly through bilateral and regional agreements. Many of the key questions of global trade governance remain yet unanswered, while as digital technologies become pervasive, the urgency of these answers becomes augmented. The World Trade Forum 2010 ‘Trade Governance in the Digital Age’ seeks to address the existing gaps and to provide new and innovative solutions to the burning regulatory questions triggered by the advent and wide spread of digital technologies. To befit this ambitious objective, the event is structured along five thematic blocs dealing respectively with the tectonic shifts in digital trade markets and regulation; old and new buzzwords in the digital trade discourse (net neutrality, interoperability, convergence); the state of play in trade and trade regulation (services, goods, regional trade agreements, etc.); intellectual property; and digital technologies and development. We are very fortunate that the forum and the highly topical issues to be debated have attracted a great line-up of scholars with multidisciplinary background, policymakers, IO and NGO representatives active in the field. We look forward to fruitful discussions in September in Bern, and also hope to attract the attention of the media and the broader public.  


While the World Trade Forum is open for participation, the number of participants is limited and there is a need to register. For registration, please fill in the form (in the grey panel on your right-hand side) and send it to gaby.hofer@wti.org.