WTO chief hopes G20 summit will help ease trade tension

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GENEVA, June 20 (Xinhua) — The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Roberto Azevedo said Thursday there are hopes from WTO members that trade tensions will be alleviated at the G20 summit in Japan next week.

“We are seeing tensions at a very high level and they are staying there, and this is weighing down on world trade growth,” warned the WTO chief while addressing a press conference organized by the UN correspondents’ association (ACANU) in Geneva.

“Everyone is hoping world trade tensions will be mitigated,” said Azevedo.

The G20 meeting will take place on June 28-29 in Osaka and Azevedo recalled last G20 summit which took place in Buenos Aires in Argentine in December 2018 when leaders called for WTO reform.

“They believe that the trading system is vital” and “they want to see tensions easing and… the system preserved and strengthened,” he explained.

However, “leaders must do something more than repeat the call. It is imperative that we see action,” he added.

On the same occasion, he also spoke of the work of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body and said the work of its appellate body “is a very critical part of the work of the WTO and if we don’t have a solution the work will be compromised.”

The United States is currently blocking the appointment of WTO Appellate Body members.

The Appellate Body functions as the global trade body’s de facto court of appeals and is composed of seven members. However, only three of the seven members are in office since Washington has refused to initiate the process to fill vacancies.

“The moment that we experience is full of challenge and risk, but is full of opportunities as well,” said Azevedo, adding that it is up to the 164 members of the WTO to decide how trade relation issues are dealt with at the organization.

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