Fate of WTO top court threatened with Trump Administration's move to block new appointments

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 11, 2019, 12.30 PM(IST)

File photo: US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( Reuters )

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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 finished 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.

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

Speaking on the sidelines of WTO's General Council, WTO Director-General Azevedo emphasised on the fact that the appellate body crisis doesn't mean the end of the global trade organization.

Trump's move signals 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.

It is worth noting that a crippled WTO could be a potential danger for India's interests as India 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, fee hikes for non-immigrant visas, including the H-1B and India pulling up the US for 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 by deciding on an interim arrangement.

However, India has also opposed such an idea to set up arbitration panels to resolve disputes bilaterally.