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Tsinghua University Hosts WTO 20th Anniversary International Conference

To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of and in collaboration with the World Trade Organization (WTO), Tsinghua University,Chinaorganized an international conference from 3 July to 4 July, 2015 entitled “WTO at 20: Multilateral Trading System, Dispute Settlement and Developing Countries” in Beijing

The conference opened with a welcome speech from Prof. Qiu Yong, the president of Tsinghua University. Opening keynote speeches were given by Dr. Karl-Ernst Brauner, Deputy Director-General of WTO and Vice Minister Wang Shouwen ofChina's Ministry of Commerce. Prof. Zhang Yuejiao, WTO Appellate Body member and professor of Tsinghua University Law School, presided the opening session of the conference.

Opening Session of the Conference, July 3rd, 2015, Beijing, China

On behalf of Tsinghua University, President Qiu warmly welcomed all the Guest speakers and participants to the conference. He also thanked all the experts presenting at the meetings, especially members of the Appellate Body and the WTO Secretariat for their hard work in the forefront of dispute resolution and their tremendous contributions to establishing and enshrining the rule based international trading system.

Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong Giving the Welcome Speech

WTO DDG Brauner thanked the host University for organizing the conference and paid a special acknowledgement to the roleChinahas played for the WTO in his keynote speech. He then carried on to explain the four functions of the WTO: the negotiations, which aim at further trade liberalization and rule making; the dispute settlement; the monitoring of members' trade policies and trade measures; and,  technical assistance to developing countries. Brauner shared his insight on the challenges faced by the WTO, especially its dispute settlement system (DSS), which is the most sought forum for litigation between WTO members. He concluded his speech by indicating that the WTO DSS "has a strong reputation which must be defended and renewed on a daily basis", and the adjudicators have "the responsibility of maintaining a system that offers the parties security and predictability at all levels, for the traders as well as for the nation legislators."

WTO DDG Karl-Ernst Brauner at the Podium

Vice Minister Wang defined the function the multilateral trading system served in global economic governance as "an important pillar" in his speech. He observed that the WTO DSS, known as the WTO's “crown jewel”, has contributed not only to the world trading system, but also to the global governance. The Vice Minister also emphasizedChina's commitment in the implementation of the WTO rulings thoughChinais not satisfied with some of the rulings,  as well as its determination to push forward necessary reform and to strengthen its cooperation with the WTO.

MOFCOM Vice Minister Wang Shouwen at the Podium

Among other guest speakers, the former Ambassador of China to WTO Mr. Sun Zhenyu made a speech on Refocusing multilateral process. The Dean of law school of Tsinghua Prof Wang Zhenmin introduced the rule of law in China,

The two-day events consisted of five plenary sessions and nine panel discussions, which addressed extensively a wide range of topics about the WTO, including the past, present, and future of the WTO; evolution of dispute settlement from GATT/WTO; functioning and authority of the Appellate Body; challenges ahead; and China and the WTO. Panel discussions covered ten topics, including DSU reform; treaty interpretation; enforcement; trade remedies; trade related intellectual property; trade in services; FTA and the WTO; trade and environment; trade and investment; and developing countries and the WTO.

WTO AB Members and Former Members at the Plenary Session

Over three hundred WTO experts, scholars and law students participating in the event. Fifty-eight speakers came from nineteen different countries around the world and separate costume territories of China, including ten WTO Appellate Body members and former members. It is the largest, as well as the most prestigious, event ever held out of Geneva commemorating WTO.

Three side conferences on WTO at 20th were held at the same time in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin immediately after Tsinghua WTO conference. Over hundreds participants attended the largest series of WTO conferences ever held in China.