Scoping Out E-Commerce in the WTO

WTO: Paths Forward
Organised by
5 March 2018
Varembé Conference Centre (CCV)

The Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference marked a new starting point for WTO-based discussions on e-commerce with the resolve of 45 members to “initiate exploratory work together toward future WTO negotiations.” Thus, the period over the coming two years presents all WTO members with opportunities to consider afresh their interests in this context.

This dialogue aims to initiate an open and informal discussion on the different trade-related aspects of e-commerce; map out possible options for a way forward on the e-commerce processes at the WTO; increase awareness on the associated technical and political challenges; and examine the substantive and procedural aspects related to the implementation of the Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce and the decision to continue the work under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce.

This dialogue falls under the first set of roundtables of the ICTSD initiative "WTO: Paths Forward." Building on the outcomes of the 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires, this initiative will provide a platform to exchange perspectives and in-depth analysis on possible options for WTO-based processes going forward and into the 12th Ministerial Conference. 

This event is by invitation only.

Ricardo MELÉNDEZ-ORTIZ is co-founder of ICTSD and has been its Chief Executive since 1996. Previously, he co-founded and was General Director of Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (Quito). He has represented Colombia as a negotiator in several multilateral fora, including as permanent delegate of Colombia in Geneva and as a negotiator in GATT’s Uruguay Round, the Rio’92 UN Conference process, UNCTAD VIII, the Climate Change Convention, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Montreal Protocol. He acted as spokesperson for the G77 in several fora and served as chair of the UN Standing Committees on Commodities and on Trade Preferences. Earlier, he had served as Principal Adviser to the Colombian Minister of Economic Development and as Chief of Administration of the Office of the President of Colombia. Since 1997, Mr. Meléndez-Ortiz has been the publisher of BRIDGES and its sister publications, and has edited, authored and published a wide range of books, articles and opinion pieces in English, French and Spanish on economic governance, trade, sustainable development and conflict management. He has served or currently sits on advisory committees and the boards of a number of global policy initiatives, including as Member of the Board of Intellectual Property Watch (Geneva); the Operating Board of AccountAbility (London); the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Trade and WEF’s Working Group on Trade and Climate Change; The Pardee Center Task Force on Governance for a Green Economy (U of Boston); The Center for Global Development’s Global Trade Preference Working Group (Washington, DC); The Evian’s Group Brains Trust (IMD); the Global Governance Network of Globus et Locus (Milano); the Steering Committees of DfID’s Global Trade and Finance Architecture Initiative and of UN DESA’s Sustainable Development Knowledge Partnership (New York), a Patron of the Earth Focus Foundation (Geneva); in the recent past he served as Chair of the Global Action Network’s Council (Cambridge, MA); and member of the U.N. Secretary General Millennium Project Task Force on Trade; the WTO’s Director General NGO Advisory Group; and the MOFCOM/IISD China Sustainable Development and Global Markets Task Force. Mr. Meléndez-Ortiz, a graduate of Harvard University, has recently co-authored Envisioning a Sustainable Development Agenda for Trade and Environment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) with A. Najam and M. Halle, and co-edited Rebuilding Global Trade: Proposals for A Fairer, More Sustainable Future(Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford U. and ICTSD, 2009) with C. Deere; Agricultural Subsidies In The WTO Green Box: Ensuring Coherence With Sustainable Development Goals (Cambridge University Press, 2009) with C. Bellmann and J. Hepburn; Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development, Agendas in a Changing World(Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009) with P. Roffe; and, WTO Dispute Settlement: The Developing CountryExperience (Cambridge U. Press, forthcoming November 2010) with G. Shaffer. He holds Colombian and Belgian nationalities and is a resident of Switzerland where he lives with his wife and two daughters.


Patrick Low is Director of the Asia Global Fellows Program at the Asia Global Institute, University of Hong Kong.  He is also a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Business and Economics and teaches on the MBA Program. Prior to that he was the Vice President of Research at the Fung Global Institute. He served as Chief Economist at the World Trade Organization from 1997 to 2013. He was an Adjunct Professor Economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies from 2004 to 2013. He worked in the research complex at the World Bank from 1990 to 1994, and prior to that taught at the Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City from 1988 to 1990.  He worked at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Secretariat from 1980 to 1987.  Low holds a BA and PhD in Economics. He has written widely on a range of trade policy and related issues.


Marta Soprana is a professional with 10 years' work experience both in the private and public sector, including international organizations. A Trade Policy Consultant specialized in international trade, particularly trade in services, institutional support policies for the internationalization of SMEs as well as private sector development towards foreign markets, Marta worked as a consultant, inter alia, for the World Trade Organization, UNCTAD and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

A graduate of the University of Bologna with a degree in International Relations, she earned her Master Degree in Internationalization of SMEs from the Italian Foreign Trade Institute, in Rome, and her Master in International Law and Economics (MILE) from the World Trade Institute, in Bern.

She speaks Italian, English, Spanish and French. 

Rudolf Adlung is an independent trade policy analyst. Until early 2014, he worked at the WTO Secretariat as senior economist in the Trade in Services Division. PhD and MA in Economics, University of Basel. Former: Trade and Environment Division, WTO; Trade Policies Review Division, WTO; German Ministry of Economics; Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Research, lecturing and publication interests revolve around services trade and the GATS. Has published extensively.