OTTAWA — Canada will host trade officials from the European Union, Japan and others for two-day talks starting on Wednesday aimed at shaping long-delayed reforms to the global trading system that have sparked tensions among major economies.
Like-minded trade ministers from Australia, Brazil, Chile, South Korea, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and Switzerland are also due to attend.
The group will "identify concrete means of improving the WTO," a source said last month, adding preparatory work had already begun.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will also meet with WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo.
The United States and China, however, will not be at the table.
The failure to adjust global trade rules in the last two decades, particularly in agriculture and services, has undermined the potential to boost growth and reduce poverty, according to a joint report by the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and World Bank released September 30.
The organisations are urging redoubled efforts to accelerate reforms, especially in the WTO, to salvage the economic benefits of trade, which have stalled, and ensure the prosperity is shared more widely.
US President Donald Trump has accused the WTO of treating the United States unfairly, and threatened to pull his country out of the global trade body if it does not "shape up."
He also complained on Twitter that the WTO considers China a developing nation, despite its economic might.
At the same time, Washington has blocked the WTO from establishing panels to settle disputes between members.
Earlier this month, Azevedo said he agrees that the WTO needs reforms, and soon.
According to a statement, the dozen trade officials in Ottawa will discuss how to safeguard the WTO dispute settlement, improve its "monitoring and transparency functions," and adjust rules to reflect the dominance in trade of services, including e-commerce. — AFP