Minister Ng introduces requests for WTO reform

In the Wake of the end of talks between Canada and the United Kingdom to ensure continuity of trade post Covid-19, today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade hosted a virtual ministerial meeting of the Ottawa Group on World Trade Organization (WTO) reform to discuss progress on the joint statement endorsed by all members in June to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on people in Canada and around the world.

Now more than ever, Canadian businesses—and the millions of hard-working Canadians they employ—rely on and benefit from an open, transparent, and rules-based international trade system.

“Canadian farmers and agri-food businesses are counting on us to stand up for a rules-based global trading system backed by a strong WTO. Our producers play by the rules, and we need the WTO in a position on the international stage to enforce those rules. To that end, collaborating with like-minded nations is an important part of our plan to reach our goal of $75 billion in agri-food exports by 2025.” – Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

As countries face a rise in COVID-19 cases, it has become necessary for governments to reduce disruptions to trade flows in essential medical supplies. Today, members of the Ottawa Group took important steps toward a proposed WTO Trade and Health Initiative, which identifies short-term actions to strengthen supply chains and ensure the free flow of medicines and medical supplies.

Canada remains committed to leading the charge on broader WTO reform with the Ottawa Group, where ministers today had a productive discussion on efforts to modernize the WTO. All agreed to continue intensifying work on e-commerce and fisheries negotiations, as well as keeping agri-food markets open and predictable. Ministers also noted the importance of deepening discussions on trade and environmental sustainability at the WTO.

Ottawa Group members also discussed the Singapore-led proposal to prohibit the use of export restrictions on food purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes by the World Food Programme to ensure food security for the world’s most vulnerable people. Ottawa Group members agreed to encourage the adoption of this proposal by the wider WTO membership at the upcoming December General Council meeting.

Canada will continue to take a leadership role in modernizing the WTO so that Canadian businesses and workers alike benefit from global trade.