Ottawa Group and WTO reform


For nearly 25 years, the WTO has played an indispensable role in facilitating rules-based international trade. But the need to modernize is urgent.

In response, Canada is leading a small, representative group of WTO members, known as the Ottawa Group[1], in order to address specific challenges that are putting the multilateral trading system under stress.

The objective of this bottom-up process is to find ways to achieve meaningful, realistic and pragmatic reforms to the WTO over the short, medium and long terms.

Over the course of the three ministerial meetings of the Ottawa Group, discussions have focused on safeguarding and strengthening the dispute-settlement mechanism; reinvigorating the negotiating function, including how the development dimension can be best pursued in rule-making efforts; and strengthening the deliberative function of the WTO, or the way in which WTO committees operate.

Currently, work is underway at the WTO on multiple fronts, including efforts by Ottawa Group members to enhance the deliberative function in four WTO bodies. The regular work of WTO bodies, which includes helping members raise and resolve trade issues before they escalate to the level of a formal dispute, is the lifeblood of the WTO and underpins the credibility of the institution. Improving and enhancing this function will strengthen the work of the organization.

[1] Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, European Union, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland

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