A rules-based multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core, is essential to ensuring a sustainable and inclusive global economic recovery.
Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, hosted the third virtual Ottawa Group ministerial meeting of 2021, in which officials discussed progress on WTO reform efforts and identified key priorities in the lead-up to the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12).
The meeting provided Ottawa Group ministers with an opportunity to have further discussions regarding the WTO’s Trade and Health Initiative and to reaffirm their commitment to building support within the broader WTO membership. The ministers also focused on how to best support WTO reform efforts, particularly in enhancing transparency and advancing negotiations.
Minister Ng emphasized the importance of continuing efforts that are aligned with the Ottawa Group’s founding mandate through discussions regarding WTO reform around the WTO’s 3 pillars: negotiations, transparency and monitoring, and dispute settlement.
In the second part of the meeting, which was attended by Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative, Ottawa Group ministers also discussed shared priorities for MC12. Building on the momentum of the recent WTO ministerial meeting on fisheries subsidies negotiations, Minister Ng reiterated Canada’s commitment to reaching a meaningful outcome on fisheries subsidies that protects workers and promotes global sustainable fishing practices. The ministers affirmed the need to continue to push for a conclusion of negotiations at MC12.
Minister Ng highlighted that cooperation between WTO members is key to ensuring a successful MC12 and noted the progress made to date as officials advance work on joint statement initiatives. The ministers emphasized the importance of concluding negotiations on domestic regulations of services by MC12, as well as on advancing efforts in health, agriculture, transparency and trade and gender. Minister Ng welcomed the United States’ decision this week to join the initiative on the domestic regulation of services.
“Canada is a strong proponent of the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core. One of the most important things we can do to demonstrate the relevance of the WTO-especially as we head into a global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic-is to have meaningful outcomes at MC12, including our work on the Trade and Health Initiative and fisheries negotiations.”
– Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
Established in 1995, and comprising 164 members, the WTO administers trade agreements, provides a forum for trade negotiations, handles trade disputes, monitors members’ trade policies to help ensure compliance with WTO trade agreements, and administers technical assistance and training for developing countries.
Led by Canada and known as the Ottawa Group, this representative group of WTO members addresses the specific challenges that put stress on the global multilateral trading system. The Ottawa Group is identifying ways to achieve meaningful, realistic, and pragmatic reforms to the WTO over the short, medium, and long term.
MC12 will take place from November 30, 2021, to December 3, 2021, in Geneva, Switzerland.