'Like-minded' WTO members seek to shore up international trading conventions

A group of self described ‘like-minded’ World Trade Organization (WTO) members met in Ottawa this week. The WTO reform was hosted by Jim Carr, minister of international trade diversification for Canada. Not included in this ‘like-minded’ group was Canada’s closest neighbour and largest trading partner, the U.S. China also not included.

The meeting, which took place this week in Ottawa, was only a few weeks after the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) negotiations. Although not specifically mentioning the USMCA, deep concern was expressed by “recent developments in international trade, particularly the rise in protectionism, which negatively affect the WTO and put the entire multilateral trading system at risk.”

The joint communiqué issued on Thursday clearly sets out the desire to defend the WTO. “We reaffirm our clear and strong support for the rules-based multilateral trading system and stress the indispensable role that the WTO plays in facilitating and safeguarding trade,” the group of 13 ministers collectively said.

Both China and the U.S. aren’t at all mentioned throughout the text. The communique ends with, “The current situation at the WTO is no longer sustainable. Our resolve for change must be matched with action: we will continue to fight protectionism.”

The countries that attended the two-day meeting were: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Union, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and Switzerland.

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