Canada to host meeting on WTO reform, U.S. and China left out for now

FILE PHOTO: Jim Carr takes part in news conference about the state of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 29, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada plans to convene a meeting of trade ministers to discuss how to reform the troubled World Trade Organization but the United States and China will be left out for now, an official said on Friday.

The WTO is facing an increasingly serious crisis amid complaints by U.S. President Donald Trump that the body is biased against the United States.

Joseph Pickerill, a spokesman for Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr, said the meeting would take place in October in Ottawa and played down the suggestion Beijing and Washington were being snubbed.

“It’s a working group of like-minded nations to act as a catalyst for action, for concrete proposals. The intent is to broaden that group once there are concrete proposals to discuss,” he said by phone.

China and the United States are engaged in a trade war and envoys from the two nations clashed at the WTO on Thursday.

Carr wants the ministerial group to identify areas at the WTO that can be modernized, said Pickerill, adding that Canada has already put forward suggestions on e-commerce, investment protection and accelerating trade with developing nations.

The invitees are Australia, Brazil, Chile, the European Union, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland.

The meeting was first reported by Bloomberg.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by James Dalgleish