Minister Ng concludes successful Canada-led Ottawa Group meeting on World Trade Organization reform and COVID-19

News release

June 15, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Canada believes that—now more than ever—we must work closely together with our international trading partners because Canadians depend on open and flowing trade.

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in a virtual meeting of the Ottawa Group on World Trade Organization (WTO) reform in the context of COVID-19. The meeting was hosted by the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, who successfully concluded the discussions with international partners.

Canada and the Ottawa Group continue to provide leadership, critical thinking and analysis, as well as concrete ideas and proposals, on actions that they and other WTO member countries can take to lessen the economic impacts of COVID-19 on people around the world, and ensure we are better positioned to deal with future crises.

Canada, along with the other 12 Ottawa Group members, today endorsed the concrete steps contained in the Joint Statement of the Ottawa Group: Focusing Action on COVID-19.  This statement establishes key actions for member countries to support an inclusive, sustainable and resilient global recovery for our people.

These priorities include greater transparency on export restrictions, predictable and open trade in agriculture, and advancing negotiations on e-commerce.

This work supports the movement of the goods and services people rely on and will ensure stability for our businesses, workers and people at this uncertain time. It also lays the groundwork for a potential new WTO initiative making it possible for medical supplies to flow more easily.

Canada and the Ottawa Group remain committed to the broader WTO reform agenda, including efforts toward a long-lasting solution for dispute settlement and conclusion of negotiations on harmful fisheries subsidies.

Businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we will continue to listen to them and welcome their feedback as we work to strengthen the WTO and restart our global economies. Canada will ramp up outreach and engagement with businesses–including small businesses, women entrepreneurs and Indigenous business owners—so that everyone benefits from trade and the economic recovery. 


“Canada has always been a leader in facilitating and developing successful trade opportunities across the globe. Canadians and our businesses have long benefited from a multilateral, rules-based trading system underpinned by the World Trade Organization, and now, more than ever, efficient and reliable trade is essential to our global economy and to the continued growth that benefits everyone.”

- Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“There is no question that Canadians rely on trade—whether you’re a manufacturer in need of materials to produce ventilators, or a family in need of life-saving medicine. Bringing together our Ottawa Group partners virtually was an excellent opportunity to discuss how we can work together to keep our goods and services flowing, modernize our rules-based trading system, and support our people. Canada will continue to show leadership on the world stage so that our businesses, workers and all Canadians benefit from trade—and that we pave the way towards a sustainable recovery and prosperity for our people in a post COVID-19 world.”

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

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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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