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Brokering Consensus on Trade within the Multilateral Trading System

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Who We Are

Established in 2016 in Geneva, the Friends of Multilateralism Group (FMG) is a think tank of independant experts firmly committed to promoting multilateralism and shared growth within the multilateral trading system (MTS).

FMG endeavors to buttress efforts by Members, both delegations and capital officials, on WTO reform and other issues of importance to the MTS and help them restore the centrality of the WTO for the governance of trade and investment. FMG will strive to provide high-quality, independent and expert advice through a series of activities and products, including researches, debates, consultations and policy advice, to help build a positive eco-system to inform and support potential compromises and landing zones for the sustainability of the multilateral trading system.

What We Do

The WTO faces short-term threats and long-term challenges. Both need to be effectively addressed with effective reforms inspired in a shared long-term strategy. Therefore, the focus of FMG will be WTO reform under discussion by members, addressing both short-term threats and long-term challenges through analysis, dialogue and action-oriented proposals.

Depending on the development of the system and demands of members, FMG can also take upon new tasks beyond WTO reform. Based on this rationale, the FMG will focus on the following set of subjects (a “living” list):

Global Trade Governance
  • Best practices for better transparency and deliberation of the WTO
  • Multilateral structure and plurilateral initiatives
  • Dispute settlement, in particular potential landing zones for both a quick resurrection of the appellate body and long-term challenges
  • Empowerment of the Secretariat to better its informing and facilitative role
  • Engagement of civil society on WTO reform
Leadership Role of Major Players
  • Trade tension among major players and its impact on the multilateral trading system
  • Rebalancing of rights and obligations
Integration of Developing Countries

Particularly the LDCs among them, into the global trading system

Free and Fair Trade
  • Fisheries subsidies
  • Subsidies, state intervention and distortions
  • Regulatory coherence and global supply chains
21st Century Issues:
  • E-commerce, including the plurilateral negotiations
  • Investment facilitation
  • MSMEs
  • Gender equality and women empowerment
  • Redefinition of traditional subjects in the new context, such as labor and environment standards, trans-border data flows, rules of origin for online services or goods, etc.

In-depth research and pertinent policy advice

FMG will use its own expertise and draw on external expertise to produce policy-papers and proposals, as needed. Drafts will be reviewed and discussed among FMG members to cover all possible angles and promote a collegial view on the subject matter.

Open debates and discussions

FMG will convene all stakeholders, including governments, private sector and civil society, to discuss its policy-papers and proposals.

Targeted follow-up communication and consultations

FMG may also host small group or individual consultations with key members, including officials from capitals, to allow for candid exchange of views and test potential landing zones.

Follow-up conclusions and further advice on landing zones

Finally, FMG researchers will fully review the results of above engagement to further improve the research and policy advice, in particularly on potential compromises and landing zones.

Board of FMG


Alejandro JARA

Co-Chair of Board

Email: alejandrojara49@gmail.com

Former Deputy Director-General of WTO and former Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Chile to the WTO
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Patrick Low

Co-Chair of Board

Fellow, Asia Global Institute, University of Hong Kong (2015-present)
Visiting Professor, Faculty of Business and Economic, University of Hong Kong (2015-2019)
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Chief Executive Officer

Xiankun LU

Chief Executive Officer, Board Member

Email: xiankunlu@163.com

Former Head of Division of Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and Emeritus Professor of University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China
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Anabel Gonzalez

Board Member

Anabel Gonzalez is an international consultant on trade, investment and economic development and a non-resident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC.
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Stuart Harbinson

Board Member

Stuart Harbinson served as a senior Hong Kong government trade policy official and negotiator in the 1980s and 1990s.
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Daniel Crosby


Daniel Crosby specializes in international trade, investment and matters related to public international law. A partner in our International Trade practice and the manager of our Geneva office
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Members of FMG

FMG is co-organized by Alejandro JARA and Xiankun LU. Its members include Richard BALDWIN, Daniel CROSBY, Simon EVENETT, Stuart HARBINSON, Bernard HOEKMAN, Anabel GONZALEZ, Alejandro JARA, Patrick LOW, Xiankun LU, Hamid MAMDOUH, Hector TORRES, Guillermo VALLES. FMG engages extensively external independent experts, as need be.


Professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, Switzerland

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Executive Director of the Institute for International Trade, University of Adelaide, Australia

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Former Chief Representative of HK China to the WTO, former Chief of Staff of the WTO
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Patrick LOW

Former Chief Economist of WTO

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Sergio Marchi has led a distinguished private and public sector career.

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Former Executive Director at the IMF and former counsellor at the WTO Appellate Body’s Secretariat and the Economic Research and Statistics Division.
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Alan Wm. Wolff is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Until joining PIIE, he was Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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Clemens Boonekamp is now a consultant on trade policy and related matters.

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Professor and Academic Director of the MBA programmes at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

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Professor and Robert Schuman Chair and Director of the Global Economics programme at the European University Institute of Florence, Italy

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Xiankun LU

Former Head of Division of Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and Emeritus Professor of University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China

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Mia Mikic is a trade economist with a keen interest in sustainable development and with a proven track record and experience in academia and international civil service.

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Guillermo VALLES

Ambassador-at-large of Uruguay, former Director of International Trade in Goods, Services and Commodities Division of UNCTAD, former Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Uruguay to the WTO

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Office Managing Partner of King & Spalding LLP Geneva

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Jonathan T. FRIED

Mr. Fried retired on August 19, 2020 from his role as Coordinator for International Economic Relations at Global Affairs Canada
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Alejandro JARA

Former Deputy Director-General of WTO and former Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Chile to the WTO

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Former Director of Trade in Services and Investment Division of the WTO
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Adjunct Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and co-ordinator of the Singapore Trade Policy Forum.

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Thu-Lang Tran Wasescha is currently IP (Intellectual Property) Consultant. She is a graduate from the Law School of Geneva University.

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Friends of FMG

Some representatives of related international organizations are also invited in their personal capacity, as “Friends of FMG” (FFMG), to enrich the discussions and bridge effective message-passing with such organizations. It is underlined that Members of Friends of FMG are participating in their personal capacities and their views or opinions do not represent the organizations that they are associated with.

Crispin CONROY

Representative Director of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Geneva and the Permanent Observer/Ambassador to the United Nations
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WEF, Head of International Trade and Investment System Initiative, Member of the Executive Committee
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Andreas ESCHE

Director of the Megatrends Program and Member of the Management Committee at the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Gütersloh
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Hajo Lanz

Director of the FES Geneva office
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Matthew Anthony Wilson

ITC, Chief Adviser and Chef de Cabinet to the Executive Director
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Olaf Wientzek

Director of the Multilateral Dialogue Geneva of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS)
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James ZHAN

James X. Zhan is senior director of investment and enterprise at UNCTAD.
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