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Canada advances trade priorities at 13th WTO ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi

UAE / CANADA – At a time when the world is faced with global economic uncertainty, including challenges that destabilize international supply chains and threaten our global economic stability and recovery, Canadians depend on an open, inclusive, sustainable, and rules-based international trading system with a strong, responsive WTO at its core.

Mary Ng, minister of export promotion, international trade and economic development, attended the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13), held from February 26 to March 1, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Minister Ng, said: “Our government has worked hard to advance WTO initiatives for the benefit of our workers, businesses and communities from coast to coast to coast. Canada will continue to play a leadership role in ensuring that the WTO continues to work for all members and in support of a strong, sustainable and inclusive global economy.”

Minister Ng focussed on advancing Canada’s trade priorities, which include establishing conditions for stable, predictable, and rules-based trade that creates more good jobs and economic opportunities for Canadian businesses, workers, and communities across the country.

Before MC13 began, minister Ng demonstrated Canada’s long-standing leadership in strengthening the multilateral trading system by chairing a meeting of the Ottawa Group on February 25. During the meeting, members committed to work together in advancing important WTO reform initiatives, including on dispute settlement, and collaborate on shared areas of interests.

Minister Ng also had the opportunity to meet with Canadian agriculture stakeholders to reaffirm Canada’s long-standing commitment to addressing trade-distorting subsidies and maintaining predictable and transparent trade for Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector -reiterating comments she raised during the Cairns Group Ministerial meeting on February 25, 2024.

Minister Ng welcomed several agreements and other developments that advance Canada’s core trade priorities, including:

  • A Ministerial Decision recognizing the progress made since MC12 and directing officials to accelerate discussions, including on unresolved issues such as appeal review and accessibility, to restore a fully functioning dispute settlement system in 2024;
  • Earlier conclusion of an agreement that will provide a more transparent and predictable environment for Canadian investors in developing countries;
  • The renewal of the work programme and moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, which provides a tariff-free environment for trading digital products online, so businesses and consumers do not incur greater costs;
  • An updated plan that commits Canada and 75 other WTO members to look for ways to address environmental challenges through trade.

“Canada recognizes that all WTO members have a responsibility to ensure that the benefits of trade are shared more equitably in their own societies. In support of this objective, minister Ng participated alongside ministers from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, New Zealand and Peru in a signing ceremony hosted by New Zealand to officially welcome Australia and Brazil to the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement (GTAGA). This event also served as an opportunity to officially welcome Australia into the Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG); celebrating the growing membership of ITAG and the GTAGA, highlighting Canada’s dedication to gender equality and advancing inclusive trade agenda.”

The minister and her WTO partners also welcomed the Comoros and Timor-Leste as the newest WTO members, highlighting that the organization remains relevant for countries seeking to expand prosperity through trade, used this opportunity to meet with her counterparts from across the world, countries big and small, such as Brazil, Nigeria, Fiji, Singapore, South Africa, Barbados – and others – to hear their perspectives and see how we can all work together to strengthen the WTO.

Minister Ng condemned Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable war of aggression against Ukraine during both MC13 and at the Solidarity with Ukraine event, where Canada endorsed a joint statement with 47 other WTO members; and reiterated Canada’s commitment to support Ukraine in its recovery and reconstruction. Minister Ng pledged to work with WTO members to address the economic and trade impacts, including global food insecurity, caused by Russia’s egregious invasion.



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