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EU, China to meet on WTO reform in October

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GENEVA (Reuters) – European Union trade officials will travel to Beijing next month for talks with Chinese counterparts on ideas for reform of the World Trade Organization, EU ambassador to the WTO Marc Vanheukelen said on Wednesday.

Vanheukelen declined to give details of the talks to reporters, but the Oct. 9 meeting adds to a flurry of reform efforts among WTO member states, including proposals put forward by the EU and Canada.

WTO member states have been under increasing pressure to reform the body since U.S. President Donald Trump, deeply critical of the global trading system, blocked the reappointment of WTO judges and imposed huge tariffs on China and other countries.

China is widely seen as the principal target of Trump’s ire, so getting it to acquiesce to tougher WTO rules on subsidies, state-owned firms and preferential treatment could be key to achieving the “shape-up” of the WTO that Trump has demanded.

Earlier this month, a delegation of Chinese trade experts and researchers, including former ministers and the ex-head of China’s central bank Zhou Xiaochuan, held a seminar in Geneva to discuss reform ideas.

Zhou acknowledged that China could do more to tighten up its rules on illegal subsidies and intellectual property – two of Trump’s biggest bugbears – in a possible signal that Beijing will address some of his fiercest complaints.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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