The current trade tensions involving major players of the global economy constitute an outbreak of some long-standing problems in the world trade system. Unless members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) start to renegotiate and to resolve these long-standing disputes, solving technical problems on the surface will prove difficult and unsatisfactory.
Points of contention among WTO members include the functioning of the WTO Dispute Settlement Unit, Special and Differential Treatment enjoyed by emerging economies as well as the treatment of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and technological transfers.
Three new changes have taken place recently. First, the US, the EU and Japan proposed a number of WTO reform recommendations in the tripartite statement released on May 31, including state industrial subsidies, SOEs and market conditions, intellectual property protection, and compulsory technology transfer. Second, the EU has also completed internal recommendations on WTO reform. In addition to the topics covered by the above-mentioned joint statement, the reform plan also involves development issues, daily work of the WTO, etc. Additionally, the China-EU High Level Economic Dialogue also plans to set up a working group on WTO reform issues.
The dialogue aimed at facilitating multi-stakeholder discussions about the WTO Modernization Agenda and was organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) in partnership with China Institute for WTO Studies, University of International Business and Economics (UIBE).
The Chatham House rule applied to this dialogue to encourage frank discussion.