Unreported: Trump won backing at G-20 for WTO reform

by WorldTribune Staff, December 4, 2018

World leaders at the G-20 Summit supported U.S. President Donald Trump’s call to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The G-20 leaders ended their two-day meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Dec. 1 with a statement acknowledging that the 23-year-old WTO is in need of repair.

World leaders pose for a group photo at the G-20 Leaders’ Summit 2018 at Costa Salguero in Buenos Aires, Argentina. / AP

“The [multilateral] system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement,” the statement said. “We, therefore, support the necessary reform of the WTO to improve its functioning. We will review progress at our next Summit.”

Trump, who has repeatedly called the WTO a “disaster,” criticized the organization for its outdated rules and threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the organization for what he said is unfair treatment.

“We lose the lawsuits, almost all of the lawsuits in the WTO,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News.

In their statement, the G-20 leaders also agreed to drop language in the WTO which rejects protectionism, a U.S. demand. The G-20 countries had earlier declared that a “responsibility to reject protectionism in all its forms” was one of their “core values.”

China, meanwhile, managed to exclude the phrase “unfair trade practices,” from the statement.

In their statement, the G-20 leaders also said: “We call on the IMF and World Bank to work with borrowers and creditors to improve the recording, monitoring, and transparent reporting of public and private debt obligations.”

The Trump administration has been a vocal critic of China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, calling it a “debt trap” for many emerging countries in Central and South Asia.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier warned of the looming debt crises in the Asia-Pacific region and pointed the finger at China, calling it a “non-transparent emerging sovereign creditor.”

The G-20 leaders in the statement agreed to take steps to address such “debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries. We will work towards enhancing debt transparency and sustainability, and improving sustainable financing practices.”

Trump, who made trade a central issue for his G-20 agenda, held meetings at the summit with leaders from China, Japan, India and Germany.

“We’ve made tremendous progress at the G-20 with many nations,” Trump said.

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