Britain is to use its presidency of the G7 group of industrialised nations to press for far-reaching reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has said.
Ms Truss is chairing a virtual meeting of the group’s trade ministers, together with new WTO director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to discuss how the organisation can tackle unfair trading practices while addressing issues like climate change.
Ahead of the talks on Wednesday, Ms Truss said some WTO rules dated back more than a quarter of a century and were in urgent need of reform.
She said the UK wanted to see the development of a new set of principles governing digital trade, to ensure open digital markets and to prevent protectionism.
It would also seek to champion the cause of “values-driven free trade”, challenging practices that distort markets while promoting “greener” global commerce.
“People cannot believe in free trade if it is not fair.
“Public trust has been corroded by pernicious practices, from the use of forced labour to environmental degradation and the stealing of intellectual property,” Ms Truss said.
“That is why the UK will strive with its G7 partners to restore trust in the global trading system by leading the charge for a better WTO which is fit for the 21st century, with a rulebook that keeps pace with modern opportunities and challenges.
“We can no longer be held back by outdated rules, some of which have barely moved on from 1995.”