G20 Pledges: Saving WTO Amidst Mounting US-China Tensions

Written by | Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

The leaders of the world’s twenty most powerful nations who met over the weekend in Buenos Aires voiced their support for a revamp of the World Trade Organization (WTO) – a global body that regulates global commerce disputes. The WTO is becoming dysfunctional just when it is needed the most to fulfill its role as a protector of trade deals and as the watchdog of international trade. Washington is particularly unhappy with the WTO as the organization is having difficulties to make Beijing open up its economy.


To escalate pressure for a WTO reform, the White House blocked new appointments to the top trade court. The EU is also urging the international community to reform the organization. The backing came just before the talks between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in an attempt to soften the escalating trade war between their countries. Given the growing mutual disputes over trade and security, there are mounting concerns about the future of the US-China relationship.


Thus, the G20 leaders finalized a communique in which they hailed trade as an important driver of global growth but made only a brief reference to the current trade issues. “We recognize the contribution that the multilateral trading system has made,” the communique read. “The system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement. We therefore support the necessary reform of the WTO to improve its functioning. We will review progress at our next Summit,” it said. The leaders also touched upon environmental issues, with the US reiterating its commitment to using all energy resources and its firm stance on the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

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