EU Calls for Urgent WTO Reforms

EU Calls for Urgent WTO Reforms
EU Calls for Urgent WTO Reforms

EU Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis on Thursday pleaded for urgent reform of the World Trade Organization, saying it was high time for change at the global trade body.

Dombrovskis said he was ready to consider a major shake-up of the WTO's dispute settlement system, news outlets said.

He visited the WTO headquarters in Geneva for a meeting with the organisation's director-general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and then set out the European Union's priorities for the future of the WTO, two months before the trade body's ministerial conference.

"The face of trade has changed considerably since the foundation of the WTO" in 1995, Dombrovskis said. "Meanwhile, the rules that govern the organization have not.

"In its current form and state, the WTO is caught between a rock and hard place. Its negotiating function is paralyzed. Its dispute settlement system is frozen."

And he said there was an absence of common purpose among its 164 member states. "The WTO is in urgent need of reform," said the EU commissioner.

Diplomats and experts alike agree that the global trade body -- which only takes decisions by consensus -- has been stuck in a rut for years and unable to conclude large-scale negotiations.

Dombrovskis called for reform of the WTO's investment facilitation and subsidy rules, including industrial and agricultural subsidies.

The former Latvian prime minister said trade must play its part in addressing the "big tests of our time -- from health issues to climate change to digital".

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