Canada to table WTO reform blueprint at meeting of finance ministers in Ottawa

Canada to table WTO reform blueprint at meeting of finance ministers in Ottawa

Trade ministers from the European Union and a dozen other World Trade Organisation member states will meet in Ottawa today

CHINA-ECONOMY-TRADE

Photo: AFP/Getty

Trade ministers from the European Union and a dozen other World Trade Organisation member states will meet in Ottawa today to discuss prospects for comprehensive reform of the top trade rule-setting institution.

Canada will outline its blueprint for reform, which seeks to modernise the governance structure of the organisation and improve the pace at which decisions are made on matters of global trade. It is expected to focus on reforming the WTO’s quasi-judicial dispute systems. Currently, appointments to the WTO’s main dispute-resolution bodies remain blocked by the US, which is seeking to avoid WTO deliberations on its unilateral trade sanctions. Canada and Mexico are also both seeking WTO rulings on the legality of US steel tariffs on the grounds of national security, despite all three countries signing a reformed NAFTA in the past month.

However, the non-attendance of China and the US raises concerns about whether reform proposals will muster sufficient international support to pass. Given the Trump administrations disdain and disregard for the existing multilateral trade order, it remains unlikely that the US will support any reform that doesn’t provide major concessions to Washington on the matter of dispute resolution.

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