Paralysis of the WTO looms as judges dismissed

The functioning of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is about to get stuck. The United States has blocked appointments of new members to the WTO’s highest dispute council over the past two years. Now that the term of two of the three remaining lawyers ends on Tuesday, this so-called Appeal Body can no longer make any pronouncements.

It has been agreed that the Appellate Body must consist of at least three and at most seven members, unofficially called judges. They have the last word on trade disputes that the WTO deals with.

Agreements are made within the WTO on trade between almost all countries in the world. They can also submit complaints if they believe that rules are being broken. The WTO recently agreed with the Americans in a dispute over banned European support for Airbus. The Appellate Body functions as a sort of supreme court in those cases.

The Trump government nevertheless believes that the WTO is too often a disadvantage for the US. In addition, Washington particularly complains that the organization does not support US trade measures against China.

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