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Germany pushes for ‘comprehensive modernization’ of WTO


A German Economics Ministry official on Saturday called for a “comprehensive modernization” of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in light of current challenges in global trade.

Oliver Wittke, the ministry’s parliamentary state secretary, praised a joint document approved at a meeting of trade ministers from the Group of 20 industrialized nations, saying it was important for them to discuss the future of multilateral trade and how to overcome trade conflicts.

The G20 meeting document said there was an “urgent necessity” to reform the WTO at a time of trade conflicts between China and the US.

Part of that conversation on reform must focus on unfair measures, said Wittke, with an eye on dumping allegations against China.

“Europe supports a comprehensive modernization of the WTO in order to better face trade-distorting measures from countries without a free market,” Wittke said.

He commended a joint document approved at the G20 meeting in the Argentinian city of Mar del Plata on Friday, saying it was an important interim step in a time of “America first” and protectionism.

A WTO meeting in Buenos Aires last year ended without substantial agreements, amid growing concern over the future of the multilateral trade system.

Trade ministers said Friday that they want to work out concrete proposals at the next meeting in November 2018 in Geneva.

Neither the US nor China sent ministers to the G20 meeting in Argentina, only lower-level representatives. Wittke was the German representative. Cecilia Malmstrom represented the European Union.

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