Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

World Trade Organization Convenes in Argentina

World Trade Organization Convenes in Argentina

Sunday, 10 December, 2017 - 13:30

World Trade Organization (WTO) will convene on Sunday in Argentina amid US criticism and disagreement over China and the committee's inability to kickstart stalled trade talks.

This will be the organization's first meeting during the presidency of US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticised the 164-member body, describing it as a “disaster.”

The Trump administration threatened to pull the US out of the trade organization which is considered to hamper its ability to compete.

In November, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo stated there are several subjects on the table, adding: "we may have some convergences on certain topics, or not, I don’t know."

Argentina’s former Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, who will preside over the meeting, said she was positive about prospects of an EU-Mercosur trade deal finally coming to fruition 18 years after talks began. The Mercosur includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.

“In a context where global trade has been called into question, it is fundamental that two such considerable markets announce they are ready” to seal a deal, she told AFP.

However, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom hinted on Tuesday that talks between the two sides could continue into 2018.

Meanwhile, US is accused of delaying the appointment of judges to the WTO’s dispute settlement system. Washington the system was ineffective and insists on following a more aggressive approach to defending its interests.

WTO’s dispute settlement system arbitrates international rows over subsidies or tariffs, among other things playing an important role in the standoff between the US and European plane-makers Boeing and Airbus.

Geneva trade official stated that as of the middle of the next month, the number of the members will be downsized to four from its regular seven-member contingent.

WTO critics said it has failed to shunt forward the so-called Doha Trade Talks, adding that the body has no power in dealing with problems posed by China, which joined the organization in 2001.

Beijing is demanding to be viewed as “market economy” but the Europeans and the US oppose the demand. WTO's recognition of China as a market economy could entitle it to preferential economic treatment under WTO rules.

Editor Picks