Trade ministers from 12 countries and the European Union met Thursday to discuss how to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The closed-door meeting, hosted by Canada's Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr, focused on three main themes that need immediate actions, namely dispute settlement, negotiation and the effectiveness of the WTO.
The WTO finds itself faced with serious challenges which are putting the multilateral trading system under stress since US President Donald Trump said he was not happy with the organization.
The United States has openly blocked the appointments of new judges to the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism, known as the appellate body, a tactic that threatens to paralyze the organization and prevent it from making decisions.
The 12 WTO members hope to convince the two biggest economies – the United States and China, to save the beleaguered body, but gave no timeline to bring them into the talks.
The meeting was designed to proceed transparently, engage additional members when appropriate and ultimately lead to advancing ideas and suggestions to the broader WTO membership for consideration and discussion.
Carr said at a press conference after the meeting that building consensus on specific reforms will take time and will be impossible without approval from China and the United States, which were invited to take part in the day-long meeting.
He said many nations have seen the value looking at new ways to approach old problems. "It's time for reform," he noted.