EU proposes reforms to WTO following Trump withdrawal threat

Accra- The European Commission proposed a series of reforms Tuesday to the World Trade Organization (WTO), aimed at modernizing the global trade watchdog and adapting it to modern-day trade practices.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from the WTO unless it is reformed, complaining that the United States does not get treated fairly.

Washington has also blocked nominations to the WTO’s trade dispute settlement mechanism, the Appelate Body, leaving it “on the verge of being paralyzed,” according to the EU commission.

“[T]he WTO system is slowly grinding to a halt. It is probably in its deepest crisis ever,” said EU Trade Commissioner Malmstrom, noting that its rules had not kept up with technological changes and the volume of modern-day trade.

As examples, she noted that the current rules do not sufficiently address subsidies channelled through state-owned enterprises and entirely fail to cover e-commerce.

“We are not reforming the WTO to please the US,” Malmstrom insisted.

The commission proposal includes changing the rules to better deal with market-distorting subsidies, improve transparency and boost the efficiency of the Appelate Body, with a view to unblocking the nominations process.

Reforming the WTO is a mammoth undertaking, as any changes would have to be approved by its 164 member countries.

Malmstrom said she would discuss the proposals at a meeting next week with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and their Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko, while also starting discussions with China.

Global trade tensions have escalated in recent months, with the US imposing high tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, as well as targeting 250 billion dollars’ worth of imports from China. Both moves have triggered countermeasures.

Source: Ghana News Agency