G7 calls for democratic nations to support world trade system reform

A Port train carrying shipping containers pulls up beside a cargo ship in the Port of Montreal
FILE PHOTO: A Port train carrying shipping containers pulls up beside a cargo ship in the Port of Montreal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

May 28, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) -Trade ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations called for democratic countries to rally behind reforms of the current world trading system, and together they criticised those who undermine that system.

“We, the G7 Trade Ministers, stand united in our commitment to free and fair trade as foundational principles and objectives of the rules-based multilateral trading system, as well as to the modernisation of international trade rules,” they said in a communique issued by Britain, which holds the rotating presidency of the G7 this year.

The G7 members said they were concerned about “increased use of non-market policies and practices” and took aim at those who use heavy subsidies, mask the state’s involvement in the economy, and steal technology.

The communique did not refer to China directly, but members like Britain have accused Beijing of undermining the multilateral trade system by using all the policies mentioned.

China, a World Trade Organization member since 2001, denies criticism from Britain that it steals intellectual property, unfairly hurts the environment or improperly trades goods made with forced labour.

In another indirect reference to China, the communique also called on countries who use World Trade Organization rules designed for developing economies to their advantage, and called for the rules to be changed to prevent that.

Britain and other WTO members have previously argued that China benefits from exceptions to the rules which were made decades ago and no longer reflect its status as an economic superpower.

“We call on advanced WTO Members claiming developing country status to undertake full commitments in ongoing and future WTO negotiations,” the communique said.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Chopra)