Industry

Canada working on WTO reform: sources

Canada is working on a project for reform

of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and aims to organize international

talks on the subject next month, Canadian sources said Friday as US pressure

on the body mounts.

President Donald Trump threatened late last month to pull his country out

of the WTO, which arbitrates trade disputes, if it does not shape up.

He has previously criticized the WTO's dispute settlement system as being

unfavorable to the US, although the body most often rules in favor of the

United States when Washington brings cases before it.

We recognize the challenges at the heart of the WTO and believe it is

necessary to find the means to do the necessary work to advance reforms, a

spokesman for Jim Carr, Canada's Minister of International Trade

Diversification, told AFP.

This work has started, he said, adding that the WTO can overcome some of

its historic challenges and make progress.

A small group of like-minded trade ministers will gather in Ottawa October

24-25 to discuss WTO reform, a Canadian government source told AFP,

requesting anonymity given the sensitivity of the discussions.

The group will identify concrete means of improving the WTO over the

short, mid and long term, the source said, adding preparatory work has

already begun.

Australia, Brazil, Chile, the European Union, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New

Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland will be part of the

working group, the official said.

A European diplomatic source said the Ottawa gathering is not totally

confirmed because a meeting of trade ministers from the G20 group of major

economies takes place at the same time, and Canada is still verifying if it

has enough support for steering WTO reform.

At a meeting in Washington in July, Trump won a commitment from European

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to work together for WTO readjustment to

address some of the US leader's complaints about China on theft of US

technology, the behavior of state-owned enterprises, and overcapacity in

steel.

Trump complained in April on Twitter that the WTO considers China, despite

its economic might, a developing nation.

They therefore get tremendous perks and advantages, especially over the

US, he said. The WTO is unfair to US.

In May, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo agreed with a call from French

President Emmanuel Macron on the need to strengthen the WTO and to make it

more effective in addressing the trade challenges of today, where the

protectionist US administration has imposed tariffs on allies and trade

disputes have multiplied.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)