World trade system needs full US participation – WTO official

A functioning global trading system needs "full and active participation" by the United States, World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director General Alan Wolff said on Tuesday, February 9, adding that subsidies need to be addressed in any reforms to the trade body.

"Although the system now has more than one or two key players, that cannot be a fully functioning multilateral trading system without the full and active participation of the United States, not now, not for the foreseeable future," Wolff told a webcast conference organized by the Washington International Trade Association.

Wolff, an American, is 1 of 4 WTO deputy directors steering the organization until a new director-general, expected to be former Nigerian finance minister and World Bank managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is installed.

Wolff said additional WTO disciplines were necessary to address industrial subsidies that are distorting trade, a reference to those from China and other non-market economies.

"WTO members must not fail to provide trade for the level playing field. Market forces, not government intervention, must determine competitive outcomes in the marketplace," Wolff said.

He also said that fishery subsidies must be addressed by WTO members, adding that long-running negotiations on the topic could be addressed in the next couple of months. –