20 May 2021
11th RSIS-WTO Parliamentarian Workshop, 17 – 19 May 2021
The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Centre for Multilateralism Studies of the RSIS organised a three-day workshop on international trade for parliamentarians from the Asia-Pacific region from 17 to 19 May 2021. This was the 11th edition of the workshop, which took place virtually due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Opening Session of the Workshop on 17 May was graced by WTO Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Speaker of Singapore’s Parliament, Tan Chuan Jin. Dr Ngozi underscored the central role that the WTO could play in COVID-19 pandemic recovery. She also highlighted the various areas where the WTO should make progress on in advance of the 12th Ministerial Conference, including increasing vaccine production and improving their distribution, as well as agriculture, fisheries subsidies, trade and climate and the various Joint Statement Initiatives. Speaker Tan focused on how the international community, through the WTO and individual countries, could band together to find pragmatic ways to fight COVID-19 and support post-pandemic economic recovery through efforts such as the Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce.
Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the WTO Tan Hung Seng was a panelist for the session on 19 May entitled “What’s next for the WTO?”. PR Tan focused on ways in which governments, Parliamentarians and think-tanks can contribute to the discussion on preparing the WTO for the future, and to encourage more tripartite cooperation to strengthen the process. Discussions with the other panelists and parliamentarians in attendance was robust and constructive.
This annual capacity-building workshop is intended to enhance regional legislators’ ability to engage in international trade issues, including to gain a deeper understanding of the WTO, as well as current and future negotiating issues in international trade. Singapore continues to strongly support such efforts to foster greater understanding of the importance of the WTO, and how key stakeholders can contribute towards maintaining and strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system.