Do not reform the WTO, urges EU trade chief to US
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (Reuters) – The United States must work with the European Union to reform the World Trade Organization rather than let it decline through negligence, the EU’s trade chief said on Monday.
“We need reforms, not ruins,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in a speech at Johns Hopkins University at the start of a week of talks with his US counterparts in Washington.
Handing over the WTO to “benign neglect,” said Dombrovskis, would lose one of the most important tools for advancing open and fair trade. It was a choice, he said, between order and the law of the jungle.
Washington is continuing former President Donald Trump’s policy of blocking nominations to the WTO Appellate Body, meaning it cannot intervene effectively to resolve global trade disputes.
Dombrovskis said the EU shares the US concerns about the functioning of the WTO and the urgent need to tackle unfair practices, such as massive industrial subsidies, forced technology transfers, subsidies and strong State involvement in economies.
The WTO could not meet these challenges in its current form, the commissioner said, insisting that the reform process should start at the WTO ministerial conference from November 30 to December 30. 3.
The EU is ready, said Dombrovskis, to work with the United States to reach agreements on subsidies in fisheries, health, agriculture and sustainability and to start a serious discussion on institutional reform.
“If we don’t act in concert, we leave the playing field open for non-market economies to do whatever they want in a global melee,” Dombrovskis said. “I think that with strong commitment and joint leadership, we can really re-energize the WTO.”
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; edited by David Evans
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