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US Trade Rep calls for 'bold' efforts to reform WTO

·1-min read
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the World Trade Organization needs an "infusion of energy" to reform and adapt to the changing global economy (AFP/Fabrice COFFRINI)

Trade officials gathering later this month must be "bold" in their efforts to reform the WTO and ensure the global trade body can adapt to the changing economy, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Wednesday.

The World Trade Organization "could really use an infusion of energy, dynamism, vision, and I think that we can light that fire," Tai told reporters.

The organization will hold its ministerial conference starting November 30 in Geneva, and Tai said officials should "bring your grievances, bring your disappointments (and) be honest" about the changes needed.

Officials are looking to revive the trade body after former US president Donald Trump brought the institution's key functions to a halt in December 2019 by refusing to appoint new members to the dispute-settlement organization.

Tai declined to get into specifics on what changes she would push for but noted the difficulties posed by requiring all decisions to be made by consensus, effectively allowing each of the 164 members to have a veto over decisions.

"I think that we need to be very bold here," she said. "Just restoring the WTO to where it was four years ago, five years ago, is not actually going to bring back the energy that we need... for a world economy that is changing very quickly."

In mid-October, Tai, on a visit to Geneva, raised the possibility of relaunching the dispute-settlement body.

Dt/juj/hs/to

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