Caught Between United States & China: EU Urges Trump to Support WTO Reform

Written by | Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The European Union is urging the United States to join the talks on the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to prevent the world’s premier institution from paralyzis. The EU came up with proposals to reform the organization’s dispute settlement mechanism, hoping to sway the American President in favor of the organization and its mission. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, however, said the EU leadership and Japan had tried to discuss the topic in trilateral talks with the United States.

“Lots of countries in the world are backing this. So please come, sit down and talk to us. That they haven’t done so far. Will that happen? Who knows,” Ms. Malmstrom commented. The talks with Japan have emphasized the need and the will to change WTO rules to tackle market distortions such as forced technology transfer and subsidies for state-owned firms. “If we don’t reform this in the WTO – and we do not expect China to just sign on the dotted line here and agree, but to engage – there will be others setting a level playing field outside the WTO and I’m not sure that is beneficial for China or the rest of the world,” Ms. Malmstrom said.

The organization is working on its biggest reform plan in almost 24 years of its history after Donald Trump had thrown it into crisis by blocking the judges and threatening a US pullout. The EU is thus caught up in competing interests of the United States and China who are currently engaged in a multi-million dollar tit-for-tat trade dispute. Commissioner Malmstrom said she was hopeful that the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina that is to take place over the weekend (1-2 December) would ease tensions between American and Chinese leadership. “It would be good for the whole world if they de-escalated a little bit,” she said.

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