About ETSG

The ETSG network aims to promote scientific exchange and collaboration among European economists and related social scientists. This is being accomplished through workshops and the use of the internet to disseminate information electronically. ETSG is designed particularly to promote the research activities of young economists working in the field of international trade, as well as other economists working on these topics in geographically isolated institutions.

The need for ETSG

Research in the area of international trade has advanced rapidly in recent decades, with many of the developments being a direct result of important research by European economists.

Prior to the establishment of ETSG, most of the advances in international trade research were being made by a small number of economists at a geographically limited number of well-funded institutions. The result of the concentration of these research activities was a bifurcation in the economic research community. Those European academics in central locations were in an ideal position to benefit from proximity to other researchers at leading academic institutions and research centres. Economists at the periphery were, however, in danger of quickly falling behind in new areas of research. This meant that potential advances in international trade were hindered or lost because of the lack of natural network externalities that were realised at larger locations.

This problem was compounded for new researchers. New academics typically begin their careers at institutions that are relatively isolated from the core research centres. For these researchers, the combination of new teaching obligations and geographic isolation meant that they were at risk of falling behind in the research field, particularly with regard to new developments. At smaller institutions, which often have the higher teaching loads, the consequent drop in the value of accumulated human capital could be quite rapid and catastrophic. The result was a reinforcement process, where the central research institutions remained at the core, and the academically isolated universities stayed isolated at the periphery, with their research staff being subject to rapid depreciation of their knowledge capital.

The ETSG network was established to address these obstacles, through its annual conference and dissemination of ongoing scientific research in international trade. ETSG disregards accurate geography. The “Europe” in the group’s title reflects the desire to draw together researchers in a broad area. Certainly, nobody is turned away purely because his or her country does not fall within a strict definition of the region.

ETSG was founded in 1999 by Joseph Francois (University of Bern) and Ian Wooton (University of Strathclyde). Shortly thereafter, Maurizio Zanardi (University of Surrey) joined them in the ETSG Managing Board. Both Ian Wooton and Maurizio Zanardi served on the Board until the conclusion of ETSG 2023 in Surrey, which hosted the 24th Annual Conference.

ETSG Meetings

ETSG organises its annual conference on international trade in the second weekend of September. The conference is hosted by a different European institution each year, where the local organizers work with the ETSG Managing Board, supported by a Scientific Committee of past conference organizers and other distinguished trade economists. The first ETSG meeting was held in Rotterdam in the autumn of 1999, and subsequent meetings have taken place in place in Glasgow (2000), Brussels (2001), Kiel (2002), Madrid (2003), Nottingham (2004), Dublin (2005), Vienna (2006), Athens (2007), Warsaw (2008), Rome (2009), Lausanne (2010), Copenhagen (2011), Leuven (2012), Birmingham (2013), Munich (2014), Paris (2015), Helsinki (2016), Florence (2017), Warsaw (2018), and Bern (2019). Unfortunately, the 2020 conference that was supposed to take place in Ghent (Belgium) had to be cancelled because of Covid-19. The in-person conferences were resumed in Ghent (2021), Groningen (2022), Surrey (2023) and the 2024 conference will be in Athens, Greece.

Subsequent meetings have seen a continued growth in attendance and submissions, with close to 300 papers being presented each year to an audience well in excess of 300. The policy continues to be one of accepting as many papers as possible subject to capacity constraints. In order to accommodate the increase in numbers, there are now seven parallel sessions, held in rooms that are close together to allow easy movement between and within sessions. All rooms are equipped with a range of audio-visual media, including overhead and data projectors. All correspondence, paper submission, and registration are conducted on the internet. The conference proceedings and official photograph of each conference are also posted on the internet. As best we can tell, ETSG is the largest annual conference in international trade in the world.

An open invitation to attend the ETSG meetings is issued through as many media as possible. The intention is to provide as open a forum as possible for the discussion of new ideas in international trade theory. Papers on any aspect of trade theory are welcome. While it is no longer possible to include all of the papers that are offered, the organisers attempt to ensure both that young academics have the opportunity to present their research and that there is a strong element of inter-temporal equity in programming the meetings.

Participants pay their travel expenses and accommodation costs, while a small registration fee is charged to offset some of the local organisation costs and the costs of running ETSG itself. Local organisers have been successful in securing sponsorship and funding to pay local costs.


In several years, a Prize has been awarded to the best paper presented at the conference by a young researcher. Between 2006 and 2012, the Prize has been awarded by Professor Hylke Vandenbussche. In 2015, the Review of World Economics assumed the sponsorship of this annual award, which includes a cash prize and the opportunity for the winner to publish their paper in the journal.

For several years, there has been collaboration between researchers at the World Trade Organization and ETSG. In 2009, this cooperation between ETSG and the WTO was been deepened by the launch of the WTO Essay Award for Young Economists. While the competition is open to researchers around the world, the winner is announced every year during the ETSG Annual Conference.