G20 agrees to work on WTO reforms ahead of key meet early next year

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Group of 20 nations has agreed to work on reforms to the World Trade Organization ahead of the watchdog's key ministerial meeting in February next year, the Indian government said on Friday.

"The G20 has exchanged views on WTO reforms and any decision will be taken during WTO's 13th ministerial conference in February in Abu Dhabi," India's commerce and industry minister, Piyush Goyal, told a press conference after a G20 trade ministers gathering in Rajasthan, western India.

The WTO's top appeals bench, which rules on top international trade disputes, has been idle for more than two years due to blockages of adjudicator appointments dating to former U.S. president Donald Trump's administration.

Under President Joe Biden, Washington has resisted calls by WTO members to approve appointments and has instead been leading negotiations on how to reboot the WTO's paralysed dispute mechanism.

Proposed reforms would include having a well-functioning Dispute Settlement System accessible to all members by 2024, as per the statement.

At the Rajasthan meeting, G20 members also agreed to improve WTO functioning and strengthen trust in the multilateral trading system.

The G20 takes in countries conducting over 75% of global trade and is presently functioning under Indian presidency.

(Reporting by Shivangi Acharya and Manoj Kumar; editing by Mark Heinrich)