Liam Fox: There’s room for US ’compromise’ at WTO

Liam Fox attends a press conference in Geneva | Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Liam Fox: There’s room for US ’compromise’ at WTO

Former UK trade secretary argued a politician not a technocrat is needed in the trade body’s top job as he made his pitch.


7/17/20, 3:29 PM CET

Updated 7/17/20, 5:12 PM CET

LONDON — There is “room for compromise” on American obstruction of the World Trade Organization’s trade dispute body, said former U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox in his pitch for the global trade body’s top job today.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said the WTO is soft on China and has blocked the nomination of new judges to its highest dispute-resolution forum, the Appellate Body — to the point it is no longer able to function.

Actions like these put the “whole rules-based system under threat,” said Fox, who argued for a politician, not a technocrat, to take up the role of director general.

But Fox said he has spoken to the Americans and that compromise is possible. Currently, the remit of the trade dispute forum is “drawn so widely,” he said, arguing that its parameters should be “narrower.” Only by negotiating with the U.S. could the WTO work to “edge ourselves closer to the compromise that will be necessary to underpin the basic values of the system,” he said.

Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called Fox a friend and “one of the favorites” to head the WTO.

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