US proposal set to seal fate of WTO top court

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 10, 2019, 10.06 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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According to WTO rules, there must be three judges to hear each case but the Trump administration has blocked new appointments to the body.

The fate of the world trade organization's(WTO) top court has effectively been sealed after the United States said that it would not back a proposal to allow it to continue.

The powerful appellate body of the global commerce block which rules during trade disputes is all set to lose two judges, who finish their terms on December 10.

According to WTO rules, there must be three judges to hear each case but the Trump administration has blocked new appointments to the body.

The US has also threatened to block the WTO's budget, which could cause the entire organisation to shut down by January 2020.

Ever since his appointment, Trump has always maintained that WTO is "biased" against the US, and has criticised it for being “unfair”.

It signals the demise of the 24-year-old body which was founded in 1995 based out of Geneva, the WTO governs nearly $23 billion in global trade.

The move could mean danger for India's interests which has several disputes that could be left in limbo if the top court collapses.

Some of those ongoing disputes include US and Japan complaining of excessive import duties and fee hikes for non-immigrant visas, including the H-1B issue and India pulling up the US over its steel and aluminium tariffs.

In the last few months alone, four cases have been brought to the WTO against India’s alleged support measures for its sugar and sugarcane producer.

Meanwhile, other major WTO economies have planned ahead by deciding on an interim arrangement but India has also opposed such an idea to set up arbitration panels to resolve disputes bilaterally.