On November 19, 2020, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, as the representative of the host state of the World Trade Organization, opened the virtual event to mark the organisation’s 25th anniversary. The event, entitled ‘WTO at 25: Past, Present and Future’, offered an opportunity to discuss the organisation’s successes and its ongoing challenges.
In his virtual opening speech at the anniversary celebrations of the World Trade Organisation, Federal Councillor Parmelin stressed that multilateral organisations such as the WTO are particularly important in uncertain times. The WTO guarantees open markets, which are a prerequisite in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming the resulting economic crisis. He issued a call to strengthen multilateralism and to work together to seek solutions to global problems. The WTO should devote more attention to the question of how trade rules could accompany the achievement of environmental and climate policy goals, for example. It is also important to gauge how new rules can strengthen the supply of medicines and medical products. Switzerland is supporting two corresponding initiatives by a broad group of WTO members.S
The WTO provides the legal and institutional basis for international trade relations and thus for the multilateral trade system. It is the only international organisation that regulates international trade relations between states at a global level. The WTO emerged on 1 January 1995 from its predecessor organisation – the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – and today has 164 members.
The event was streamed on the WTO website and can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/25y_e/25y_e.htm