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WTO Reform: Canada and the Ottawa Group


Since 1995, the WTO has played an indispensable role in facilitating rules-based international trade. But the need to modernize is urgent.

In response, Canada is leading a group of 14 likeminded WTO Members, known as the Ottawa Group (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, European Union, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom), in order to help WTO Members address specific challenges that are putting the multilateral trading system under stress.

The objective of this bottom-up process is to contribute ideas and analysis towards achieving meaningful, realistic and pragmatic reforms to the WTO over the short, medium and long term.

Since its establishment in 2018, discussions of the Ottawa Group have focused on:

Current initiatives

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in support of the critical role that the WTO plays in helping to ensure coordination and coherence between the trade-related actions taken by its Members, on June 15, 2020, Ottawa Group Ministers agreed to a joint statement outlining six concrete actions that the group would take. This includes:

An important element of this work will be to give due consideration of what trade rules should be adapted or developed for collaborative policy responses to future global crises. Fundamentally, the Ottawa Group’s objective is to help lay the foundations in support of an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery.

On November 23 2020, Ottawa Group members unanimously endorsed a Trade and Health Initiative, which was presented to the WTO General Council in December 2020. Under the Initiative, Canada and the Ottawa Group are calling for further cooperation among all WTO Members to strengthen global supply chains and facilitate the flow of essential medical goods, including vaccines, amid the pandemic. The Initiative identifies a range of actions that Members are encouraged to adopt, including:

The Initiative continues to garner support from other WTO Members beyond the Ottawa Group.

Ottawa Group ministerial meetings

Papers developed by Canada

Discussion Papers/Statements by Canada on WTO Reform


If you have questions or comments about this initiative, we would like to hear from you. Please contact Global Affairs Canada at:

Trade Policy and Negotiations Division (TCW)
Global Affairs Canada
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G2

Fax: 613-944-0757

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