More than ever, global trade is interconnected, Canadians and citizens around the world depend on open, transparent, and rules-based trade to provide reliable access to essential goods and services during the pandemic.
Yesterday, 29 January 2021, the Honorable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade, participated in a virtual World Trade Organization meeting of fellow ministers hosted by Switzerland.
Part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) mandate is to maintain the global rules of trade between nations, ensuring that trade flows as smoothly, predictably, and freely as possible. Key priorities to strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system in support of an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient global recovery were discussed.
“Canada will always champion multilateral cooperation and lead on tangible international trade and investment outcomes so that Canadian businesses and the millions of workers they employ can benefit from an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Trade Organization plays a crucial role in ensuring this future, and I look forward to working with my fellow WTO ministers as we build on today’s commitments to growth and prosperity for our businesses and workers.” – The Honorable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
One of the highlights of the meeting was Minister Ng’s remarks on the Canada-led Ottawa Group’s efforts on a trade and health initiative that seeks to keep markets open, facilitate the distribution of vaccines, and better prepare for future global health crises. She also noted the importance of continuing the progress of all other WTO joint statement initiatives, including those concerning e-commerce, which remains critical to the global economic recovery from the pandemic. She underscored Canada’s commitment to reaching an expeditious conclusion to negotiations on fishery subsidies to help preserve global fish stocks and called on WTO members to engage on trade and environmental sustainability at the WTO. She also emphasized the importance of concluding the selection process for the next WTO director-general, as well as resolving the Appellate Body impasse as quickly as possible.
“Multilateral cooperation matters more than ever as work continues to support Canada and the world’s economic recovery from COVID-19,” Ng said.
In the WTO November 2020 report – “Covid-19 And Beyond: Trade And Health”, the economic impact of the pandemic was distinctly emphasized and members were called upon to review and promptly eliminate unnecessary existing restrictions on exports of essential medical goods necessary to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
In line with Minister Ng’s work at the WTO, in conjunction with other G20 counterparts, they committed last spring to the implementation of the G20 Action Plan on Trade and Investment. Since then, Canada has been working closely with its partners, including other WTO members, to take concrete action to deliver on these commitments and to support businesses and workers now and in the future.
The World Trade Organization helps create rules for trade between its 164 members. Canada is a strong proponent of the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core.