WTO Deputy-Director General Wolff sees opportunity in update of rules

On March 3, 2020, the Meridian Corporate Council partnered with Boston Scientific and Toyota to host The Honorable Alan Wolff, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization, for a roundtable conversation on ‘Current Initiatives Being Taken on by the WTO and the Future of U.S. Engagement with the International Body.’  

Wolff began his four-year term as Deputy Director-General on October 1, 2017. Prior to this role, he was Senior Counsel at Dentons, one of the world’s leading international trade law firms. He is Chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), as well as Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Trade and Commercial Diplomacy (ITCD). 

In his opening remarks, Deputy Director-General Wolff addressed that, while a great concern may currently surround the uncertainty of trade, 80% of world trade is nondiscriminatory, and 98% of trade falls under the WTO’s jurisdiction, which should be very encouraging for investment. He noted that the rules set forth by the WTO prioritize fairness and are intended to level the playing field amongst workers worldwide, as well as provide guarantees on investment. The regulation provided by the WTO certainly ensures valuable level of predictability, but Deputy Director-General Wolff did acknowledge that there are still areas where improvements can be made. From his perspective, intentional steps must be taken in order to assure the relevance of these WTO rules in the globalized context of 2020, with one example being to take into consideration the changing digital landscape of trade. Another change proposed was to ensure women were not disadvantaged by current trade structures, a concept likely not considered when rules were put in place in 1947, but one certainly deemed necessary today. Following the Deputy Director-General's remarks, a roundtable discussion followed which highlighted how corporations should serve as changemakers for ensuring that multilateral trade is supportive to all its participants.  


Boston Scientific

Project summary

WTO Deputy-Director General Wolff sees opportunity in update of rules
Regions: Western Hemisphere
Countries: United States
Impact Areas: Business and Trade
Program Areas: Diplomacy
Partners: Private Sector