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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

wto diary Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in June 2020

The time is ripe for a renewed charter for the multilateral trading system that --

1. Recommits Members to shared ideals and goals, based on the premise that market forces are to determine competitive outcomes;
2. Is founded on participation based on a net positive contribution from all WTO Members, without exception, contributed for the common good;
3. Recognizes the right to equal trade for all nations and equal opportunities for all participants regardless of gender or how small the size of a business may be; paired with an equal level of obligations except in the case of verifiable limitations of capacity
4. Links explicitly once again the cause of peace and the cause of open markets as they were in the first clause of the 1947 Havana Charter for the International Trade Organization.  (This is particularly important for the conflict-affected countries, some of whom joined the WTO in recent years and a number of whom now seek to become Members).
5. Provides that obligations be fully enforceable as envisaged at the founding of the WTO.
6. Protects the environment (such as dealing with plastics in the oceans).
7. Combats the scourge of corruption through all Members joining and fully implementing the government procurement agreement.
8. Promotes sustainable development through all relevant WTO activities, and that its efforts be made far more effective, directly through training and indirectly through close coordination with other international organizations.
9. Provides a new structure of governance whereby --
- Rule-making consistent with the WTO’s objectives becomes more possible;

- The WTO’s dispute settlement system is more responsive to the needs of Members;

- The management of the system by its Members as well as their Secretariat becomes more effective and agile in meeting the needs of members, including initiating subjects for negotiation, monitoring and working to assure compliance with existing obligations, providing relevant analyses, and recommending actions to assure the fostering of the objectives of the renewed WTO Charter.

The Vital Role of China in the Multilateral Trading System

China has benefitted enormously from its membership in the World Trade Organization.  It has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. To achieve this required integration into the world economy through the multilateral trading system.

China has much at stake but also much to contribute to the reform and updating of the global trading system.  In many ways China is a leading country, including in the world of e-commerce.  Obviously, there are many subjects in which China’s full participation will be essential if multilateral progress is to be made.  This includes in the near term the need to conclude a major agreement on fisheries subsidies.

This is a time when China needs to be forward leaning -- to improve the multilateral trading system and to assist its own domestic reforms. The WTO Ministerial Meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in June 2020 will be a time when leadership qualities of WTO Members will be tested.  Some matters should be concluded successfully by then.  But there is much that will remain to be done, and in this regard, China can help shape and deliver WTO 2025.

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