Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has backed a rethink of the World Trade Organisation, saying the system was ‘built for a different time’.

Amid an escalating tariff war between economic heavyweights the US, Europe and China, Mr Morrison said current WTO rules have been ‘unable to resolve the things that have led to these current tensions’.

The US and France have called for an overhaul of the organisation, and lobbied Australia and other countries during a G20 finance ministers meeting in Buenos Aires over the weekend.

‘It needs to be looked at in the broader context of how the system has failed to deal with these long-standing issues, and that’s something we discussed with the Americans,’ Mr Morrison told The Australian Financial Review.