The call came as US President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw from the WTO unless it changed. Trump has complained the United States was treated unfairly in global trade and has blamed the WTO for allowing that to happen, Reuters reported.
“Only a multilateral approach will enable us to face up to global challenges,” Juncker told 51 European and Asian leaders gathered at a summit in Brussels.
“I therefore reiterate our wish that we should support multilateral organizations like the United Nations and the WTO together, we should reform the WTO so that its rules better reflect new realities,” he said.
Fight escalated at WTO
Disputes over Trump’s trade tariffs and their consequences are being escalated at the WTO, with 12 requests for adjudication shown on Friday in an agenda for the organization’s Oct. 29 dispute settlement meeting.
The requests showed talks have failed to settle the disputes, and years of litigation lie ahead. The agenda showed seven WTO members challenging US steel and aluminum tariffs and five US requests for adjudication, including two against China.
The 28 EU states were joined at the two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday by more than 20 Asian leaders including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japan's Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also attended the event.
European leaders sought to build support from Asia in defense of free trade and the fight against climate change, to counter the growing protectionism of President Trump's America.
Amid bitter tariff disputes with Washington, the leaders were expected to use the two days of talks to give their backing to the global trading system based on the WTO.
"To those who prefer quick fixes without clear rules I say it's not worth it. A world without rules is by definition a world of chaos," EU Council President Donald Tusk said as he opened the summit on Thursday, AFP reported.
Beijing and Washington are locked in a spiraling trade war that has seen them level increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other’s imports.
The United States over the summer levied tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese goods as punishment for what it says are unfair trade practices by China. The latest tariff salvo represented half of the $500 billion of products that the United States bought from China last year.
Trump has repeatedly threatened to slap tariffs on more Chinese imports in an intensifying trade war that has led many forecasters, including the International Monetary Fund, to cut their global economic projections for 2018 and 2019.