Director-General Roberto Azevêdo strongly welcomed the communiqué agreed by G20 leaders at the summit in Osaka, Japan on 29 June recommitting the G20 to the need for WTO reform. The Director-General participated in the summit, where he also underlined the urgency of addressing the blockage in the WTO dispute settlement system.
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo joined Prime Minister Abe and other G20 leaders at a side event during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, to discuss the importance of the digital economy and the ongoing negotiations at the WTO, under the Joint Initiative on E-commerce.
Parties to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) welcomed Ecuador and the Philippines as new observers to the GPA committee at its meeting on 26 June. In addition, the parties approved the United Kingdom’s request for a six-month extension to submit its instrument of accession to the GPA in its own right.
WTO members discussed the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the meeting of the Committee on Trade Facilitation on 25 June. Members analysed the progress made and highlighted remaining work to be done, with some drawing attention to upcoming notification deadlines, related challenges and available support.
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo welcomed President Rumen Radev of Bulgaria to the WTO on 24 June. The two discussed current trade tensions and the importance of the WTO in promoting stability and predictability in international trade.
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, in opening the seventh annual WTO/World Bank/IMF Trade Conference at the WTO headquarters on 24 June, said research is vital to make the case for the multilateral trading system as governments reassess policies and opportunities to renew cooperation arise.
The WTO’s 21st Monitoring Report on G20 trade measures issued on 24 June shows that the trade coverage of new import-restrictive measures introduced during the period (October 2018 to May 2019) was more than 3.5 times the average since May 2012 when the report started including trade coverage figures.
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo participated in the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Trade and Digital Economy on 8-9 June in Tsukuba, Japan, which resulted in a commitment by ministers to “work constructively with other WTO Members to undertake necessary WTO reform with a sense of urgency, including in the lead-up to the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference”.
The WTO’s Annual Report, published today (4 June), provides a comprehensive account of the organization’s activities in 2018 and early 2019. The Report opens with a message from Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and a brief overview of the year. This is followed by in-depth accounts of the WTO’s main areas of activity over the past 12 months.
World trade growth is likely to remain weak into the second quarter of 2019 according to the WTO’s latest World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI), released on 20 May. The new WTOI reading is 96.3, exactly as it was in the previous release in February this year, maintaining the weakest level since 2010.
More than 30 safeguard-related actions of WTO members were put on the agenda for review at a meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards on 29 April. The European Union’s decision to impose a definitive safeguard measure against imports of steel products drew the most comments from members, with other actions by Canada, Egypt, Morocco and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on steel imports also drawing scrutiny.
The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 26 April formally adopted a panel ruling clarifying the use of national security exceptions to WTO rules as invoked in the trade dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine over transit restrictions. The DSB also heard a number of members’ views on proposed reforms to the dispute settlement process in light of recent dispute cases and continued differences over the appointment of Appellate Body members.
This year’s Public Forum theme is ‘Trading Forward: Adapting to a Changing World’. The sub-themes will be: “services — the next trade frontier”, “the next generation — what do Millennials & Gen Z want to see from global trade” and “the next chapter of the WTO — strengthening the trading system”.
Is there scope for members to look at the experience of WTO accessions for additional inspiration in the ongoing WTO reform debate, asked Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff at a meeting of the Informal Group of Acceding Governments on 25 April. Governments that have joined the WTO since 1995 and observer governments currently seeking WTO membership are “key stakeholders in the ongoing debate and have a voice that should be heard,” he underlined.
WTO rules on food safety play an important part in enabling governments to protect their citizens while ensuring trade can play its critical part in maintaining timely supplies of safe and affordable food, said Director-General Roberto Azevêdo in opening the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade taking place at the WTO on 23-24 April.
On 18 April the WTO circulated the panel report in the case brought by the United States in “China — Tariff Rate Quotas for Certain Agricultural Products” (DS517), to which the EU participates as a third party.
The report examines the impact of digital technologies on Global Value Chains, and the impact of the latter on labour market.
On 9 April the WTO circulated the panel report in the case brought by Canada in “United States — Anti-Dumping Measures Applying Differential Pricing Methodology to Softwood Lumber from Canada” (DS534).
The European Union has requested dispute consultations with India regarding duties imposed by India on imports of certain information and communications technology (ITC) products. The request was circulated to WTO members on 09 April.