At the request of the European Union, Norway, Switzerland and the United States, the panels in the disputes “US — Steel and Aluminium Products” (DS548, DS552 and DS556) have agreed to open their meetings with the parties to public viewing at the WTO Headquarters in Geneva. The hearings will take place during the month of November and are subject to separate registration procedures.
WTO members agreed at a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 30 September to a request from the European Union for a dispute panel to review various measures concerning the production, importation and marketing of pharmaceutical products in Turkey. Members also considered requests for panels from the United States to review India’s additional tariffs on certain imported US goods and from Tunisia to review Morocco’s anti-dumping measure on imported school books.
Update – the final programme is now available.
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”.
At the G7 Summit in Biarritz on August 25 2019, WTO DG Azevêdo told G7 leaders that WTO reform debates are an opportunity to support global efforts to tackle inequalities and help spur growth and development. The Summit was hosted by President Emmanuel Macron, under the French Presidency of the G7 in 2019.
The growth of world merchandise trade volumes is likely to remain weak in the third quarter of 2019 according to the WTO’s Goods Trade Barometer, released on 15 August. The latest reading of 95.7 from the barometer, formerly the World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI), is lower than the previous release and signals that stronger trade growth is not yet in sight.
On 22 July 2019, Madagascar notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it had decided to initiate on 18 July 2019 a safeguard investigation on pasta.
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.