G20 leaders back trade body reform

BUENOS AIRES: Global leaders were expected to back an overhaul of the world body that regulates international trade disputes at a summit on Saturday, delegates said, ahead of high-stakes talks between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at defusing a trade war. A consensus appeared to be emerging at the two-day gathering of the Group of 20 industrialised economies for a joint statement that would back reforms to the crisis-stricken World Trade Organization (WTO) amid growing global trade tensions, according to officials from the European Union and summit host Argentina.

“We reiterate that the multilateral trading system is the framework in which we are all working and committed,” an EU official said. The WTO is on the verge of becoming dysfunctional, just when it is most needed to fulfil its role as umpire in trade disputes and as the watchdog of global commerce. The United States is unhappy with what it says is the WTO’s failure to hold Beijing to account for not opening up its economy as envisioned when China joined the body in 2001. To force reform at the WTO, the United States has blocked new appointments to the world’s top trade court. The European Union is also pushing for reform at the WTO. — AFP