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Global trade meeting ends with a whimper

The three day meeting ended with no significant deal on promoting global trade.

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec 14 – The World Trade Organization concluded a ministerial meeting Wednesday with nothing significant to boast — a meager outcome for its first gathering in the Donald Trump era.

Trump is outspokenly hostile to multilateral trade accords, and his top delegate here launched a broadside at the WTO, accusing it of losing its focus on trade negotiation and becoming a “litigation-centered” body.

The three day meeting ended with no significant deal on promoting global trade.

On the sidelines, the European Union and the South American trading bloc known as Mercosur did however announce they were close to concluding a free trade accord under negotiation since the 1990s. It might be ready early next year, they said.

But the broader WTO gathering was seen as a dud.

“We are disappointed. Despite our efforts, members failed to reach any significant agreements,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo.

He took a jab at what he called the US delegation’s inflexibility, saying “multilateralism does not mean getting what you want, but rather that which is possible.”

As has been the case for years, bilateral deals took precedence over multilateral accords, which are hard to achieve because they require consensus within the WTO.

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