G-20 nations agree on reforming WTO: European officials

The leaders of the world’s largest economic powers on Saturday backed an overhaul of the global body that regulates international trade disputes, ahead of high-stakes talks between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Group of 20 (G-20) leaders and their spouses at a banquet after a gala in Buenos Aires on Nov 30, 2018, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.
Group of 20 (G-20) leaders and their spouses at a banquet after a gala in Buenos Aires on Nov 30, 2018, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.PHOTO: AFP/ARGENTINIAN PRESIDENCY

BUENOS AIRES (REUTERS) - European officials said that G-20 nations had agreed to commit to reforming the World Trade Organisation in a preliminary draft of the communique due to be released at the end of a two-day meeting of the bloc on Saturday (Dec 1).

An EU official said the language currently being negotiated for the communique said leaders support reforms needed to improve the WTO.

The language on multilateral trade had been a sticking point for the United States, which insisted the communique say the multilateral trading system was not working, the official added.

"We reiterate that trade is beneficial for utility, innovation, growth and employment, and we reiterate that the multilateral trading system is the framework in which we are all working and committed," the official said.

"But for the US to acknowledge that, they had to get something in return, which was to say that this multilateral trading system does not work anymore, and does not meet the challenges that it has to meet," the official added.

The officials also said the wording on climate change was "a little bit more than the status quo but not backtracking" and the language around steel was kept to a minimum so leaders could reach an agreement.

Regarding migration, the language would also be kept to a minimum.

"It's a disappointment and we'll not hide our disappointment. But at least we have it," the official said.

The communique still needs final endorsement from member nations.