Forty-one members of the World Trade Organization issued a joint statement on 8 May expressing concerns over rising trade tensions and risks of escalating protectionism. The statement, delivered to a meeting of the WTO’s General Council, calls on governments to resolve their differences through dialogue and cooperation, including through the WTO.
The co-sponsors of the statement, which include both developed and developing country members, said a well-functioning, rules-based multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO was of “key importance for our economies as well as for global economic stability, prosperity and development”. They also noted the marked recovery in world trade market last year and the WTO’s encouraging positive trade forecast for 2018 and 2019.
“However, we are concerned about increased trade tensions and related risks for the multilateral trading system and world trade,” the group said. “We encourage WTO Members to refrain from taking protectionist measures and to avoid risks of escalation. We call on Members to resolve their differences through dialogue and cooperation, including through WTO bodies and, as appropriate, recourse to WTO dispute settlement.”
The co-sponsors also called for action to address major challenges facing the WTO, including overcoming difficulties in concluding negotiations and divergent positions on trade and development. They also highlighted the importance of filling all current and future vacancies on the Appellate Body without delay.
The co-sponsors of the statement are Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hong Kong China, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Viet Nam.