G20 members confirmed that they continue to fully support the
objectives of the WTO and share common ground based on its
foundational principles. The views expressed by G20 members can
provide political support to advance the necessary reform of the WTO in
The following section summarizes the G20 discussions into three
categories: (i) common objectives, (ii) foundational principles, and (iii) the
collective vision to advance the WTO reform.
At their Extraordinary Summit on 26 March, G20 Leaders reiterated the
objective “to realize a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent,
predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep
our markets open.” Our discussion highlighted the role of the WTO to
achieve Members’ objectives, and specifically noted the importance of
the WTO rules in supporting economic recovery from the COVID-19
All members reconfirmed their commitment to the objectives enshrined
in the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO, with most members
noting that some of these objectives are also reflected in the Marrakesh
With respect to the principles that underpin the WTO, the Chair notes
that G20 members’ responses referred to the foundational principles
embodied in the Marrakesh Agreement and included in the covered
agreements, with most members noting that some of these foundational
principles are also reflected in the Marrakesh Declaration.
The Chair notes the following outcomes of the exchange of views on foundational principles:
• All members agreed to list the following as part of the principles of the WTO:
o Rule of law
o Fair competition
o Market openness
o Resistance to protectionism
o Reciprocal and mutually advantageous arrangements, acknowledging that agreements provide for differential and more favorable treatment for developing economies, including special attention to the particular situation of least developed countries
• Most members stressed that ‘sustainability’ is a principle of the WTO
• Most members stressed that ‘market-oriented policies’ is a principle of the WTO.
• Some members stressed that ‘special and differential treatment’ is a principle that is integral to and underpins the WTO and that should be preserved. Many members, highlighting that WTO rules contribute to economic growth and development, expressed the view that S&DT is a tool to facilitate the achievement of WTO objectives and should be applied on the basis of demonstrable needs.
• Members noted the practice of consensus-based decision making in the WTO, expressly carried over from the GATT in the Marrakesh Agreement. Some members consider this practice to be a principle of the WTO.
COLLECTIVE VISION TO ADVANCE THE NECESSARY WTO REFORM
Concerning the policy vision for how agreed functions of the WTO should be fulfilled to meet agreed objectives, the G20 discussions focused on the need for members to fully comply with the WTO obligations negotiated and agreed to by WTO Members.
G20 members agreed on the need to provide political support to achieve the necessary reform of the WTO and to improve the functions of the WTO. A general sentiment emerged that in order to engage in effective reform, members must fully adhere to existing WTO obligations on transparency. Members shared ideas and referenced initiatives on transparency that could be pursued at the WTO in order to enhance trade predictability and to bolster compliance with WTO notification obligations and recognized the need to support Members that face capacity constraints in meeting their obligations.
All members reaffirmed the importance of multilateral approaches to negotiations. Most members suggested that, using the flexibilities provided by the WTO framework, “open plurilateral” negotiations could be pursued by members who were ready to move ahead on particular issues and highlighted the momentum that, in the light of historical precedents, such initiatives can provide towards multilateral outcomes. Other members recalled existing rules on negotiations and decision making in the WTO and emphasized that new rules be adopted by consensus.
Recalling Tsukuba Trade Ministers’ call for action regarding “the functioning of the dispute settlement system consistent with the rules as negotiated by the WTO Members”, members agreed that the dispute settlement system is in urgent need of reform. Divergent views were expressed on the nature of reforms that would ensure the WTO dispute settlement system faithfully supports the WTO’s important functions of monitoring and negotiation.
The Saudi G20 Presidency extends its appreciation to all TIWG representatives for their feedback and engagement in the Riyadh Initiative. The Presidency notes the following outcomes of the Riyadh Initiative:
• G20 support for the objectives enshrined in the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO, with most members noting that some of these objectives are also reflected in the Marrakesh Declaration.
• Affirmation of foundational principles of the multilateral trading system with different views being expressed on various issues.
• Determination to tackle the necessary reform of the functions of the WTO and to discuss all proposals in this regard.
• The need for Members to fulfill their notification obligations as a necessary condition for Members to effectively monitor compliance with existing rules.
• Recognition by most members of the value of pursuing plurilateral negotiations on issues where progress can be achieved and emphasis by some members that new rules be adopted by consensus.
• Shared sense that the dispute settlement system needs urgent reform, with divergent views on the nature of such reforms.
The Saudi G20 Presidency sincerely hopes that the Riyadh Initiative will help advance the shared interest of WTO Members in bringing about the necessary reform of the WTO, so it can fulfill its objectives of improving the lives of the world’s citizens and ensuring peaceful, inclusive and sustainable economic development through multilateral cooperation.G20SS_Communique_TIMM_EN
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