Members of the World Economic Forum met in Davos, Switzerland, at the end of January where world leaders discussed global trade and WTO reform.
During a speech to delegates, German chancellor Angela Merkel toted globalism and cautioned against nationalism and protectionism.
“There is a new approach that we see in the world today, an approach that harbors doubts as to the validity of the international system; they say ‘Shouldn’t we look after our own interests first?’ and then out of that develop an order that is good for all,” she said. “I have my grave doubts that this is the right way to go about it.”
Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan described globalization as an “inevitable trend in history” and decried both protectionism and the dangers of populism. China is currently in a trade war with the United States.
Canadian Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr, championed Canada’s continued leadership in reforming and strengthening a multilateral trading system. Canada was one of the founding members of the WTO in 1995 and, before that, of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
On Oct. 24 and 25, 2018, Canada hosted ministers from 12 WTO members at the Ottawa Ministerial on WTO Reform. The objective of the Ottawa Group is to identify concrete ways the operation and functioning of the WTO could be enhanced and improved over the short, medium and long term
Carr also chaired the second meeting of the World Trade Organization’s group on reforming the WTO. Ministers discussed mechanisms to safeguard the WTO’s dispute settlement system, to reinvigorate the negotiating function, and to increase compliance with existing transparency and notification obligations. They also endorsed a plan to begin discussions aimed at strengthening and enhancing the WTO’s deliberative functions.
“Canada played a key role in building the multilateral trading system of the last century, and we are committed to seeking ways to improve and modernize its rules and institutions for the 21st century.
“Negotiations on e-commerce are a relevant and timely example of how we can modernize the rules of trade to deliver broad and significant economic benefits and opportunities to businesses and consumers all around the world,” he said.
The value of global trade in goods and services in 2017 was estimated at $29.8 trillion. As well, there was almost $15.7 billion worth of e-commerce retail sales in 2017.
Recently, the Minister participated in ministerial discussions and endorsed the WTO Joint Ministerial Statement on Electronic Commerce, which reaffirms WTO members’ intention to work collectively to create a more open, transparent, non-discriminatory and predictable environment for businesses of all sizes.
Canada is working closely with like-minded partners to encourage the digitalization of trade in order to help open new markets for small business and benefit consumers around the globe. To that end, Canada launched domestic consultations to obtain input from Canadians on the types of commitments they would like to see pursued to further facilitate e-commerce, otherwise known as digital trade. The minister closed his week at the WEF by joining the WTO mini-ministerial meeting hosted by Switzerland, where he briefed his counterparts on the outcomes of the discussions on reform and provided a frank assessment of the state of play at the WTO from Canada’s perspective.
On the margins of the WEF, Minister Carr was pleased to notify representatives from the United Arab Emirates of Canada’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, to be held in the United Arab Emirates, from Oct. 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021, under the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. With an anticipated 25 million visits, Expo 2020 Dubai will provide a unique opportunity to display the innovation, knowledge and expertise in business and cultural pursuits for which Canada is recognized around the world.

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