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Hello, this is Michelle. Countries are gearing up for decisive trade talks at the end of February in Abu Dhabi, where the World Trade Organization will be putting its own neck on the line.

As a strained global economy and fraught trade relations among the world’s most powerful players stoke criticism over the trade body’s effectiveness, countries may have a chance to prove its worth.

At least its chief economist is convinced that it can. On the job for a year now, Ralph Ossa breaks down some of the key issues the trade institution is faced with.

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Michelle Langrand


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Ralph Ossa was appointed WTO chief economist last year. (Geneva Solutions/Maurizio Arseni)

As the countdown begins for the 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi next month, the halls of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva are abuzz with activity. The WTO's 164 member states are making a final, frenetic push to reach consensus on key issues at their highest decision-making meeting, convened every two years. At this stage, the outcome of these talks, which are set to shape the future of global trade policies, is shrouded in uncertainty.

At the upcoming conference, Ralph Ossa will make his debut after serving for a year as the organisation’s chief economist and head of the statistical division. In his role, Ossa is responsible for guiding the research agenda and supporting negotiations with reports and insights produced by his team of 60 people.

He received Geneva Solutions at his office nestled on the second floor of the WTO’s headquarters overlooking the lake. Without venturing into rash predictions, he said he didn’t want MC12 to be a “one-time miracle that happened at Lake Geneva, where 164 countries demonstrated that multilateralism is effective”.

Read the full story on Geneva Solutions (EN)

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