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WTO's appellate court can no more issue rulings

Dec '19
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) can no more intervene in trade wars as terms of two of the last three judges on its appellate body neared their end on December 10. This will deprive the de facto supreme court of world trade of its ability to issue rulings and implies a return to an era of inconsistent settlements, problems the WTO was created to address.

WTO’s lower court can hear cases, but its decisions will go nowhere if the loser appeals to a non-functional higher court.

The panel is supposed to have seven judges. But its strength has dwindled because the United States has been reportedly blocking new appointments to protest the way the WTO functions.

Major trade disputes, including the US-China trade conflict and metal tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump, will not be resolved by the trade arbiter, according to global newswires.

Stephen Vaughn, who served as general counsel to the US trade representative during President Donald Trump’s first two years, said many disputes would be settled in future by negotiations.

The European Union (EU) ambassador to the WTO told counterparts in Geneva the appellate body’s paralysis risked creating a system of economic relations based on power rather than rules.

New EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said the WTO is no longer fit for purpose and in dire need of reforms going beyond just fixing the appeals mechanism.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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