2024 Multilateral And Regional Trade Agreements


The seminar will cover the basic GATT and WTO rules, and the future of the WTO, as well as examining the implications of the massive growth of Regional Trade Agreements. The course is designed to help governments and enterprises to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by multilateral and regional trade agreements, as well as to deal with their challenges. It will be taught by present and former senior government officials, leading academics and practitioners, and officials from multinational organizations.

The creation of the WTO some twenty years ago, with its effective enforcement system, vastly expanded the scope and effectiveness of the international trade system. While the WTO had some early successes, the almost complete collapse of the Doha Round meant that it had failed at one of its major functions – the organization of multilateral trade negotiations. Its other principal function has been the settlement of disputes between members, which worked well until recently but has now fallen into limbo as a result of the United States vetoing the appointment of new members of the Appellate Body. The seminar will discuss the likely future of the WTO in light of these negative developments.

The seminar will also cover Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs), which, in part because of the failure of the Doha Round, have become an increasingly important part of the international trading system. RTAs already cover well over half of world trade, and massive new agreements have been concluded in recent years, including The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) (11 countries, including Japan and Vietnam); the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) (16 countries, led by China and including Japan and Korea); and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) (54 countries).

The seminar will discuss the implications of a transition in the United States to a new “worker-centric” trade policy, and how this differs from the former “America First” policy, as well as the future of the fraught trade relations between the United States, China and other countries.


The seminars are currently offered both in-person and online simultaneously, at the choice of the participant. This choice must be indicated at the time of registration. A small number of courses are scheduled to be delivered exclusively in person or online, and are indicated as such in the 2024 schedule. In-Person Only seminars usually start at 9:30 am Washington D.C. time. Daily sessions usually end at 4:00 pm. Breaks (including the lunch break) are allocated as appropriate. Online Only seminars will be delivered through five (for 1-week course) or ten (for 2-weeks course) live online sessions via videoconferencing platform. Each session will last approximately 3.5 hours and will be scheduled to start within a time window of 7:00 am – 8:30 am Washington D.C. time. Hybrid In-Person/Online seminars will start at a time most convenient to both in-person and online participants, and will generally follow the In-Person seminar format. We expect the classes to be highly interactive and can include presentations, case studies and exercises.

Course Outline

Background: the International Trading System

  • Creation and operation of the WTO
  • WTO rules governing trade in goods, services and intellectual property
  • WTO dispute settlement

Regional Trade Agreements

  • GATT and GATS provisions authorizing RTAs
  • The pros and cons of RTAs
  • The growth of “Megaregionals”
  • Dispute settlement in RTAs
  • Particular issues:
      • Trade in goods – rules of origin
      • Trade in services
      • Intellectual property
      • Investment
      • Non-traditional issues – environment, labor, digital trade, etc.

Course Advisors

Patrick Macrory is Director of ILI’s International Trade Law Center. He was a senior partner in two of Washington’s largest law firms, and has practiced trade law for more than forty years. He has taught international trade law at universities in Washington, London, and Tokyo. He has written extensively on the subject, and was Editor-in-Chief of a major multi-volume work on the WTO published in 2005. He is also co-editor of “A Business Guide to Trade and Investment”, published in 2017/18 by the International Chamber of Commerce.

NOTE: This course can be taken on its own or in conjunction with the course on The Trade Facilitation Agreement and Other Important Customs Issues, Negotiation of Trade Agreements, to be held the following week.