Cecilia Malmström on the situation of the WTO Appellate Body

Brussels, 6 November, at the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament, Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for trade, spoke about the outcome of the WTO Ministerial (Shanghai, 5 November 2019). Discussions mostly focused on WTO reform, the crisis of the WTO Appellate Body, and current global trade tensions.

The most acute issue is the Appellate Body, which will no longer be able to hear new appeals after December 10, as the terms of the remaining members will run out and the US is continuing to block appointments. No solution is in sight and it is not clear if the Appellate Body will be able to complete existing appeals as there is a US member who may step down. This paralyses the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO or it could fall back to one step resolution through panels, but even this would not be a desirable development.

The EU has developed an interim solution to preserve its own rights by copying the Appellate Body system, but at a bilateral level. This would be a reciprocal arrangement and an agreement has been signed with Norway and Canada. This could develop to a plurilateral arrangement

However, it is clear that drastic reform of the WTO is required and there has been agreement on all sides about this. However, very few concrete proposals have been put forward.

The information is provided by Dods.