Australian PM: WTO needs mending to keep up with the times

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, speaks with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong during a joint press conference at the Istana or Presidential Palace in Singapore, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a joint press conference at the Istana or Presidential Palace in Singapore, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a business lunch event hosted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a joint press conference at the Istana or Presidential Palace in Singapore, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shake hands at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore, Friday, June 7, 2019. (Wallace Woo/Pool Photo via AP)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a joint press conference at the Istana or Presidential Palace in Singapore, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)

SINGAPORE — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that the World Trade Organization needs mending to keep up with the times.

Morrison said many leaders attending the Group of 20 summit in Osaka later this month share the view.

"There is a strong consensus about the need to modernize the WTO and its rules," he said.

"We need to mend it, we don't need to break it, and mending it requires a lot of partnership," he added. "Just now it's the technical practical things that need to get done."

Morrison, who spoke at a lunch organized by the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, didn't go into the specifics of what needed to change.

But he referred to a "very practical" speech by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at an annual security conference last week.

Lee said multilateral institutions like the WTO were "far from perfect" and in need of reform.

"Multilateral global deals like the Uruguay Round are no longer practical, when agreement requires a full consensus among 164 member countries of hugely diverse interests and philosophies," he said.

"Furthermore, the WTO was designed for an agricultural and manufacturing-based world economy, but the world has moved on to services and now increasingly digital and intellectual property, which need much more complicated rules," Lee added.

Morrison is on his first overseas trip after a shock election victory in May. It includes stops at the Solomon Islands, Britain and Singapore.

People also read these

Top Indonesia judge gets 8 years in prison for...

Sep 4, 2017

Indonesia's corruption court has sentenced one of the country's top judges to eight years in prison...

Hundreds leave Papua villages in separatist...

Nov 20, 2017

Indonesian police say hundreds more people have left villages in easternmost Papua that were at the...

Bali volcano ash drifts 4.7 miles high, airport...

Nov 29, 2017

An erupting volcano with a deadly history on Indonesia's Bali island has spread drifting ash 7,600...

The Latest: Flights trickle from Bali after...

Nov 30, 2017

Bali's airport is operating at far from its usual capacity after reopening while ash from the Mount...

Bali volcano emits wispy plume of steam, flights...

Dec 4, 2017

Gushing ash from a Bali volcano dissipated into a wispy plume of steam, and Australian airlines...