30 May 2012
The 12th Annual World Trade Organisation (WTO) Conference [PDF 238KB], jointly organized by British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), Queen Mary University of London and the Institute of International Economic Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, took place on 16-17 May 2012 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
Rosa Lastra, Professor in International Financial and Monetary Law at CCLS, Queen Mary, University of London, organized the two panels relating to the global financial crisis, with attention to the current Eurozone crisis, on 17 May.
The first panel under the rubric of 'International Financial Regulation' was chaired by Simon Gleeson of Clifford Chance and included as panellists Professor Robert Thompson and Chris Brummer of Georgetown University Law School, Professor Lastra and Charles Randell, partner at Slaughter & May. The panel discussed the problems posed by the twin financial and sovereign debt crises, the difficulties of managing global systemic risk in the financial sector and the emerging architecture nationally and internationally. The global financial crisis has exposed numerous systemic problems that have yet to be resolved. In the Eurozone, the problems are compounded by the sovereign debt crisis in Greece and its contagion effects upon other EU Member States. The future of international financial regulation and the persistent challenge of the cross-border resolution of systemically important financial institutions considering the pernicious effects of relying upon bail-out packages - are some of the major issues the international community must face to set the foundations for global growth and stability.
Following a lunch break, the second panel, chaired by Professor Lastra, focused on the 'Relationship between Trade and Finance' and included as panellists Dr Michael Waibel of Cambridge University, Professor Kern Alexander of Zurich University, Mike Gadbaw is associate professor at Georgetown University and Professor Jan Wouters of Leuven University. The panellists discussed how International Economic Law provides an intellectual umbrella to understand the fundamental relationship between global finance and world trade. The concept of Macro-prudential regulation has been embraced by authorities nationally and supra-nationally as an effective instrument to deal with the systemic implications of financial crisis. The prevention of systemic failure is a unifying principle in the rule-oriented schemes that should govern trade and finance. Under the GATS agreement, WTO is involved in cross-border financial services issues, and the interplay between the potential liberalization of such services and the stability of the financial system requires examination. This entails a careful analysis of the institutional links between WTO and international financial institutions. The panel concluded that international trade and international finance law have proceeded at different speeds and that the WTO system of rules and dispute settlement offers valuable lessons in the design of an adequate international monetary and financial architecture.