Canada to host virtual Ottawa Group meeting on World Trade Organization reform and COVID-19

News release

June 11, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced that Canada will host the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Ottawa Group on World Trade Organization Reform on June 15, 2020.

As the world faces the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, countries are working together to find ways to keep people safe while supporting businesses, workers, and their families.

The virtual meeting of the Ottawa Group will build on the progress made by Canada and like-minded countries over the past few months, ensuring trade stays open and predictable to give people stability at this uncertain time.

Ministers from the 13 Ottawa Group countries will discuss how the WTO and the rules-based trading system can help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, lay the groundwork for a sustainable recovery, and adapt trade rules to prepare for future crises.

The ministers will discuss key priorities, including greater transparency around export restrictions, ways to ensure the smooth flow of goods and services to benefit their countries’ people, and helping businesses and workers adapt to an increasingly digital economy.

The Ottawa Group will continue to engage small businesses as it develops concrete plans to address the global economic recovery and ongoing WTO reform efforts.


“Canadian businesses need long-term stability and predictability to thrive at home and around the world—that is why Canada is leading efforts to modernize the rules-based multilateral trading system for businesses in the 21st century, particularly in these extraordinary times. I look forward to continuing to work closely with our international partners to support our businesses as countries begin to gradually reopen their economies.”

- Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

Quick facts

  • Canada was a founding member of the WTO in 1995 and, before that, of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade—contributing to a trading system that continues to benefit Canadian businesses and exporters. Today, the WTO has 164 members from around the world.

  • Canada is leading efforts on WTO reform through the Ottawa Group, which acts as an impartial sounding board for key issues and ideas on how to advance WTO reform. 

  • In addition to Canada, the Ottawa Group comprises Australia, Brazil, Chile, the European Union, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Korea, and Switzerland.

  • The Ottawa Group supports its members in advancing concrete proposals to improve how the WTO functions over the short, medium, and long terms. This includes the dispute-settlement system, to ensure that trade rules are enforceable; the negotiating function, to ensure trade rules are relevant in the 21st century; and the day-to-day committee work at the WTO, to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. 

  • The Ottawa Group is also working together to increase stakeholder engagement to ensure their views on the importance of the rules-based trading system are heard by all WTO member governments.

Associated links


Ryan Nearing
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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