Trade negotiations in an era of uncertainty

April 15, 2019 – April 17, 2019 all-day Europe/Rome Timezone
Villa Schifanoia
Via Giovanni Boccaccio
50133 Florence
Matthias Kindel

Academy of Global Governance (in collaboration with the School of Transnational Governance)


Scientific Coordinators:
Bernard Hoekman | European University Institute
Robert Wolfe | Queen’s University


Cappella, Villa Schifanoia, Via Boccaccio 121 – Florence 15 – 17 APRIL 2019


Trade strategy is now shaped by an environment of rapid economic and technological change in which we cannot assume that all countries always share trade liberalisation objectives or support the rulesbased trading system. High profile protectionist actions seem increasingly legitimate in some countries, but routine protectionism never went away in many more. The potential direct and global ripple effects of a retreat from multilateralism bring considerable uncertainty, not least by undermining what we thought were the foundational norms of trade relations. Questions about whether new players in the system will accept those norms add to the uncertainty, if they privilege state-directed rather than market-oriented firms. At the same time, some citizens in the advanced economies think that trade and globalisation have not worked for them, and they face new uncertainty as artificial intelligence changes the future of work.

This course focused on the strategic challenges for trade policy in a world adapting to rapid structural change and unpredictable policies. How should national interests be analysed? How can governments defend those interests from protectionist actions taken by others, while at the same time working to reduce fixed costs for firms of trading, and reducing uncertainty in partner country markets by getting them to make binding commitments? How should we think about operationalising a “progressive trade agenda”? Bilateral and regional agreements are facing diminishing returns. Policies that generate the largest externalities and have systemic importance, require coordinated multilateral action. The old agenda of shallow reciprocal agreements is still with us, for example barriers to market access among developing countries, but in the 21st century economy it is necessary to develop deeper agreements, for example on subsidies, which will require new models.

Drawing on the experience of practitioners and academic trade experts, the training objective was to improve participants’ understanding of the evolving trade policy landscape and present alternative approaches to addressing the negative spillover effects of national trade-related policies.


Final programme



Simon Evenett | University of St. Gallen, Switzerland – [download id=”21156″] 
Martina Ferracane | European Centre for International Political Economy, Belgium – [download id=”21160″]
Bernard Hoekman | European University Institute, Italy – [download id=”21178″] – [download id=”21181″]
Lisa Lechner | University of Innsbruck, Austria – [download id=”21166″]
Patrick Low | University of Hong Kong, China
Douglas Nelson | Tulane University, United States
Hildegunn Nordas | OECD, France – [download id=”21169″] – [download id=”21172″]
Jacques Pelkmans | Center for European Policy Studies, Belgium – [download id=”21175″]
Edwin Vermulst | VVGB Law, Belgium
Robert Wolfe | Queen’s University, Canada
Stefano Inama – [download id=”21163″]