This is the 73rd occasion when a proposal moved by Guatemala, a Central American country, on behalf of 130 members was not able to launch the selection processes.
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A proposal backed by 130 World Trade Organization (WTO) members to restart the selection processes for filling vacancies on WTO’s Appellate Body was shot down by the United States (US) yet again in a sign that disputes may keep piling up at the top trade body, fueling further protectionism in global trade.
The Appellate Body is the apex institution for adjudicating trade disputes.
This is the 73rd occasion when a proposal moved by Guatemala, a Central American country, on behalf of 130 members was not able to launch the selection processes. The US has been blocking the appointment of new judges to the WTO’s seven-member appellate court since 2017 on grounds of judicial activism at the WTO and concerns over US sovereignty.
The lack of a functional Appellate Body is concerning as global trade is already slowing with growing geo-political tensions. Moreover, developed countries are turning inward with the introduction of several environment related trade measures such as carbon tax which could hurt India’s trade prospects. India’s goods exports have seen a decline during the better part of 2023 largely due to weakening demand globally.
“Guatemala said that on behalf of the 130 members it regretted that for the 73rd occasion members have not been able to launch the selection processes. Ongoing conversations about reform of the dispute settlement system should not prevent the Appellate Body from continuing to operate fully, Guatemala said for the group,” an official WTO statement released late on Friday read.
This comes ahead of the 13th ministerial conference (MC) of the WTO in Abu Dhabi on February 26-29 where India is set to bat for a resolution of the system. The US repeated that it does not support the proposed decision to commence the appointment of Appellate Body members as its longstanding concerns with WTO dispute settlement remain unaddressed.
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