Wednesday, December 4, 2019

WTO appeals process stymied

The World Trade Organization is losing its ability to police its terms of trade.

When a country lodges a complaint, it is referred to a disputes-settling panel for a decision, but there will be nobody left to sit on the panels after Dec. 10 when two of them retire.

The United States has steadfastly refused for two years to appoint new members and it’s not backing down despite last-ditch efforts to try to patch together an agreement.

“It appears there will be no consensus between members on how to proceed on the Appellate Body by Dec. 10,” said David Walker, New Zealand’s ambassador who chairs the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).

The European Union (EU) told the talks that the impasse was undermining the dispute settlement system. 

China’s delegation said the “illegal blockade” by Washington had resulted in an unprecedented number of pending appeals.

Canada is among those frustrated by the impasse, including complaint about China’s embargo on canola shipments from key export companies.

Even the U.S. is caught, in its case waiting for an appeal against Airbus subsidies.