U.S. committed to WTO and wants it to succeed, trade rep Tai says

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GENEVA (Businesshala) – US Trade Representative Catherine Tai on Thursday reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO), saying reforms were possible as the body prepares for a major ministerial conference next month.

FILE PHOTO: US Trade Representative Catherine Tai testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, May 12, 2021. Susan Walsh / Poole via Businesshala / File photo

The 25-year-old global trade body is facing questions about its relevance and Director General Ngoji Okonjo-Iwela is under pressure to make quick fixes and sign its first multilateral trade deal in years in November 30-December. 3 meeting.

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“The Biden-Harris administration believes that trade – and the WTO – can and should be a force for good that encourages a race to the top and solves global challenges,” said Tai. said in a speech to be delivered later on Thursday. World Trade Organization host city in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We all understand the importance of the WTO, and we all want it to succeed.”

Many observers blame Washington for the paralysis of the WTO’s top dispute settlement panel, whose judge appointments were blocked by former President Donald Trump’s administration.

The appellate body has thus been unable to rule on a trade dispute since December 2019 and Biden’s trade officials have not dropped their opposition since.

Tai reiterated US criticism of the panel, saying WTO dispute resolution has become “synonymous with litigation”, which she said was “long, costly and controversial”.

She was more upbeat on the WTO negotiations, saying the reform could be successful “if we create a more resilient WTO, improve the way we approach problems collectively, improve transparency and inclusivity, and The deliberations of the organization restore work.”

Among other deals, WTO members are aiming to strike an agreement on fishing subsidies after 20 years of talks at a ministerial meeting.

Overall, Tai called for a focus on “similarities” rather than areas of disagreement.

“By working together and connecting differently, we can make the WTO an organization that empowers workers, protects the environment, and promotes equitable development,” she said.

Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Raisa Kasolowski

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