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Next WTO head must re-establish group’s trade leadership: Fast

For Canada, that means launching trade talks with Europe, India, Japan and others, including the TransPacific Partnership.


April 8, 2013
by The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The federal government says the next head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) must re-establish the body as prime player in global trade liberation, and not just as a cop to ensure member nations don’t break the rules.

Trade Minister Ed Fast issued a statement saying Canada will lobby other nations in an effort to choose the right individual who can aggressively advance the trade agenda.

The WTO has taken a back seat in recent years as a result of the failure of nations to come to an agreement on the Doha round of talks.

Given the decade-old impasse, governments have moved on individually and in sub-groups. For Canada, that has mean launching trade talks with Europe, India, Japan and others, while also joining the TransPacific Partnership talks.

Meanwhile, a group of nations have launched a new initiative to liberalize trade in services, also outside the WTO umbrella.

Fast says new the WTO director-general must take a leadership role in persuading other member states to join the trade liberalization efforts.

“Canada will support the selection of a candidate who can marshal common cause against the protectionism that remains a toxic threat to the global economic recovery,” Fast is quoted in the statement. “Accordingly, the successful candidate must be a champion in the fight against tariff and non-tariff barriers around the world.”

Officials say the government has yet to decide who it will support. Fast has met with most of the nine candidates up for the job, including most recently Mari Pangestu of Indonesia and Anabel Gonzalez of Costa Rica.

A new director-general is expected to be chosen by May 31 and assume duties as director-general on Sept. 1, replacing France’s Pascal Lamy.

©The Canadian Press