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No need to revamp WTO

Sep 17,2018 - Last updated at Sep 17,2018

At a time when trade wars among nations are on the rise, especially in the wake of US President Donald Trump's "America first" policy, his recent decision to apply an additional $200 billion tariffs on Chinese products entering his country and his declared commitment to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, trade and investment ministers and senior officials from G-20 nations met on Friday in Mar Del Plata in Argentina to salvage the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its pro-free trade policy from the onset of punitive trade wars.

The participants aimed also to prepare the ground work for the November meeting of the G-20 ministers, scheduled to adopt an affirmative action for that purpose.

President Trump has already threatened to pull out his county from the WTO in protest against what he calls its pro-free trade among nations policy that he says hurts his country's own economy. Trump contends that the US runs a trade deficit with many nations or group of nations, notably China, Canada and Europe. Trump estimates that his country's trade deficit with China reached $375 billion in 2017.

There is a growing consensus, therefore, that the WTO is in an urgent need for reform to cope with the developing threats to international free trade. President Trump has set in motion this growing conviction that the WTO, as it is currently constituted, can no longer cope with the growing dangers to world trade. 

The G-20 nations which are spearheading this call for reform need to keep in mind, however, that Trump's legacy is not permanent as his term in office is due to end in two years. There is, therefore, no pressing need to reorganise or revamp the WTO altogether to meet the transient threats to free world trade coming its way from Trump, as his days in office are numbered.

There is no chance that Trump would be reelected for another term in the White House given his record until now. All that the G-20 nations need to do now is mark time till another US president is elected in two years, when trade relations between nations can normalise.

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