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Redefining the Rules: The Future of WTO Subsidies Reform
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures is the key multilateral agreement governing the use of government subsidies and related financial assistance, as well as the remedies available to address such measures when they cause commercial harm. Having not been updated in many years, these rules do not reflect the realities of today’s global economy, particularly as we witness a global rise in the scope and magnitude of various types of subsidies and financial assistance offered to companies and entities. Furthermore, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery efforts, many countries have increased their spending to spur economic growth, adding to this trend.

In recent years, some important efforts have been undertaken to evaluate and propose new approaches to curtail the trade-distorting effects of such policies, notably the launching of the EU-Japan-U.S. trilateral process in December 2017. The trilateral group has developed proposals to strengthen and update existing WTO rules on industrial subsidies, among other related matters. Although these proposals have yet to be finalized and submitted for consideration by other WTO members, they could represent a basis for further work. In an address to the WTO General Council in early March, immediately after taking office as the new Director-General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala emphasized the importance of putting forward and prioritizing a subsidies work program on both domestic support and industrial subsidies.

In order to better understand these developments and associated challenges, as well as identify ways to modernize global rules to more effectively address the myriad of different types of subsidies, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) will be convening a panel of experts to explore these issues and more.

Apr 14, 2021 09:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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