As the WTO’s three functions of administering multilateral trade rules, organizing trade negotiations, and settling trade disputes come under pressure, WTO reform is becoming a hot topic at the ongoing G20 Osaka Summit.
On the evening of June 27, right before the formal commencement of the G20 summit, Japan’s Foreign Press Secretary Takeshi Osuga took a question from China Today about how WTO reform would be discussed at the summit and what Japan’s stance is on the reform at the press conference briefing during Japan’s bilateral meetings with G20 participating countries and organizations.
Osuga indicated that the topic would be discussed at various meetings of the summit. “For example, at the meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and EU leadership today, WTO reform was discussed, including the issue of dispute settlement,” he told China Today.
Osuga refrained from giving details about Japan’s stand on the issue. More discussions will be held in the following two days.
As the terms of two judges of the WTO Appellate Body will come to expiration in December 2019, the dispute settlement system will be paralyzed.
At a speech given at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC on April 11, the WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo, after underlining the important role of the WTO in the stability and predictability of the world trade, said “It is clear that the WTO has to be better, faster, and more responsive.” He listed the three areas that WTO members had shown great concern: how to strengthen the work of the WTO’s regular bodies and committees to improve areas such as notifications and transparency; how to improve the Dispute Settlement System and address the impasse in the appointments to the Appellate Body; how to improve WTO negotiations so that we can keep delivering new agreements with real economic impact.
About the WTO reform, on May 13, China formally submitted its proposal to the organization, and identified four key points: tackling the essential and pressing issues threatening the existence of the organization, increasing WTO relevance on global economic governance, improving the organization's operating efficiency, and increasing the inclusiveness of the multilateral trade mechanism.