WTO faces 'logistical challenges', claims US Trade Representative

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The US does not appear to have much faith in potential achievements at the WTO's next meeting.

The US has suggested a continuing lack of enthusiasm in the World Trade Organization (WTO) ahead of an upcoming ministerial conference.

A major meeting of the global trade watchdog's 164 members is to be held in November and December to negotiate topics including the pandemic, agriculture and fisheries.

It is expected to be a test of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's relatively new position as WTO leader, with the body not having concluded a multilateral deal for some time now.

However, in a telephone conversation with Ms Okonjo-Iweala, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she feels the organization's meeting faces some "difficult logistical challenges".

This comes after the US has become increasingly critical of the WTO in recent years and even threatened to withdraw its membership altogether on a number of occasions. 

It has been particularly dismissive of the dispute settlement system and effectively paralyzed the Appellate Body by refusing to appoint new judges.

Former US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also opposed Ms Okonjo-Iweala's election, telling the Financial Times the WTO needed someone with hands-on experience as an organization in "bad shape".

Nevertheless, the most recent conversation between Ms Okonjo-Iweala and Ms Tai ended with the two agreeing that the WTO must "demonstrate its ability to advance a global trade agenda that increases shared prosperity".