Macron's WTO Reform Proposal Unfeasible, Brussels-Based Think Tank CEO Says

© AP Photo / Francois Lenoir, Pool PhotoFrench President Emmanuel Macron arrives for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017 - Sputnik International
PARIS (Sputnik) - The idea of reforming WTO does not seem to be feasible since the process will require a consensus among all its members, which will prove to be extremely difficult amid the ongoing trade disputes and the organization’s diminishing role, the CEO of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based think tank, told Sputnik.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called on major international players to prepare a roadmap for reforming the WTO, the first part of which can be presented during the G20 summit in Argentina in November. The next day, Washington removed the exemption from a 25-percent tariff on steel and 10-percent tariff on aluminum for the European Union, while the latter pledged to bring its case against the US tariffs to the WTO.

"I would wish him [Macron] good luck. But I don’t think that would be possible, certainly in the current context where you have frictions between certain nations – not only between the European Union and the United States or the United States and China. How many members has the WTO got [164 members]? You have to have the majority of them to get it approved, that would be extremely difficult," Karel Lannoo said.

A person gets out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarter in Geneva (File) - Sputnik International
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According to the expert, the WTO dispute settlement mechanism has long been in urgent need of reform.

Lannoo also noted that bilateral agreements between big trade blocs started substituting the WTO role in championing free trade, amid lack of consensus among the organization’s members.

"We have much more bilateral agreements between the big blocs, than we have deals negotiated by the WTO … It’s a good idea to say 'let’s reform it' because the WTO has come down in importance, but whether he [Macron] can do it is a totally different issue," he added.

The WTO has been criticized for years by politicians and businesspeople for its inability to ensure that its rules and international agreements are implemented.

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