Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Following the decision last December from Washington to block the new appointment of judges for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body (after claims of ‘over-reach’ in trade dispute resolution), the Appellate Body has effectively been frozen since. Two of the three remaining members of the Appellate Body came to the end of their terms in December 2019, which in turn made the body unable to issue rulings, and with a freeze on the appointment of new members to this body, the WTO has essentially being neutered in its capacity to settle international trade disputes.
The European Union, China, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and Uruguay have agreed to address this incongruence, by passing temporary measures to once again allow the processing of appeals relating to international trade disputes.
Emergency measures (in response to the economic-havoc of the Coronavirus quarantine measures) have been passed recently to restart the WTO Appellate Body with a temporary panel of ten ‘trade-expert’ arbitrators, allowing the WTO to once again have the power to fully address international trade disputes, including appeals. The effective reinstatement of the WTO’s ability to fully address any given appeal is a welcome change from the vacuum that was left come last December regarding resolving international trade disputes.
"This is a stop-gap measure to reflect the temporary paralysis of the WTO's appeal function for trade disputes," EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan commented recently, indicating the importance of the appeal process to the WTO.
The Tower team fervently hopes that it would not take another international economic crisis for cooler heads to prevail in regards to implementing the best policies not just for one nation, but for the globe.