US, China not invited to WTO reform meeting

International Trade Diversification Minister Jim CarrImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr is hosting a meeting on WTO reform

Canada has not invited the US or China to a high-level meeting on reforming the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The country will host a “small group of like-minded” trade ministers in Ottawa in late October to discuss the global trade body.

Officials say countries like the US and China will be included at a later date in the reforms discussion process.

The European Union, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea are expected to attend.

Brazil, Chile, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland are also invited to the 24 and 25 October meeting.

“We recognize the challenges inside the WTO and believe in finding ways to do the work necessary to push for reforms,” said Joseph Pickerill, a press officer for federal International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr, in a statement to the BBC.

“Canada is leading that effort.”

US President Donald Trump has made no secret of his dislike of multilateral international trade deals, and has threatened to pull the United States out of the WTO “if they don’t shape up”.

The president has said he believes the global trade body too often rules against the US in disputes.

China, meanwhile, has been accused of not being completely transparent in opening up its economy the way it committed to under the WTO.

Both major powers have also been involved in a trade war that sees each imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars of goods ranging from suitcases to cutlery, wheat and wine.

Analysts warn the dispute will have an economic knock-on effect for the rest of the world.

The WTO is at the heart of the system of rules for international trade.

Bloomberg reported in September that Canada was seeking to forge an alliance of countries that support a rules-based multilateral trading system and that will defend it against rising protectionism.

Canada’s plans focused on improving the effectiveness of the trade monitoring system, modernising trade rules, and strengthening dispute settlement mechanisms, the news agency said.

US and Canada relations have been tense in recent months as the two renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, now renamed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

An agreement in principle on the USMCA was reached late on Sunday night after some 14 months of talks.

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