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Let’s reform not ruin the WTO, EU trade chief urges U.S By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, European Commission vice-president, gives a press conference in Brussels on the communication of a new framework for occupational safety and healthcare strategy. This was June 28th 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Ger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States needs to work with the European Union to reform the World Trade Organization rather than let it decline through neglect, the EU trade chief said on Monday,

“We need reform, not ruin,” European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said in a speech at John Hopkins University at the start of a week of talks with U.S. counterparts in Washington.

Dombrovskis stated that if the WTO was to be reduced to “benign neglect”, it would mean the loss of one of the key tools for fair and open trade. He said it was between the order of the jungle and the law.

Washington is continuing to block appointments to WTO’s appellate bodies, a policy that Washington has been following since Donald Trump’s election. This means it can not effectively interfere in global trade dispute resolution.

Dombrovskis stated that the EU shares US concerns regarding the WTO’s operation and called for urgent action to end unfair practices such as forced technology transfers and massive subsidies.

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These challenges cannot be addressed by the WTO in the current format, said the Commissioner. He stated that the WTO ministerial conference, which will take place on November 30-Dec. 3, must begin the reform process.

Dombrovskis stated that the EU was ready to partner with America to achieve agreements in areas such as agriculture, sustainability, and health. He also said they were open to a discussion about institutional reform.

Dombrovskis stated that if we don’t act together, it leaves the field wide open to non-market economies for their own purposes in a free-for all. I believe strong collaboration and joint leadership can help to revitalize the WTO.

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