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December 12, 2019

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WTO impasse ‘victim of US unilateralism’

CHINA yesterday said that the current World Trade Organization Appellate Body impasse has imposed the most severe blow to the multilateral trading system since the establishment of the WTO in 1995.

“Unfortunately, the WTO Appellate Body has become another victim of US unilateralism and protectionism,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying in Beijing yesterday.

“The international community must uphold fairness and justice, and cannot let individual countries or individuals do whatever they want,” she said, stressing that China believed its concerns were shared by the vast majority of the international community.

The United States is now acting arbitrarily, obstructing relevant processes and paralyzing the Appellate Body, which reflects the fragility of the multilateral trading system, said Hua.

China is willing to work with WTO members that share the common goal of continuing to tackle the challenges facing the Appellate Body, she said.

The WTO will no longer be able to review dispute rulings between countries because its Appellate Body will not have enough judges.

The Appellate Body, considered the supreme court of the WTO, is supposed to have seven judges. At least three members are needed to hear an appeal. Since the terms of two of the three remaining judges ended on December 10 and the United States has blocked the nomination of new judges, the Appellate Body will be unable to hear new disputes.

The United States said it did not support the proposal for starting the selection process, as the “systemic” concerns it previously raised had not been addressed.

According to Mexico, it was the 29th time that the Latin American country, representing numerous WTO members, made similar proposals over the past two years, and it was the 29th time that the United States blocked it with a veto.

Some WTO members have expressed concerns over the impact that the “lockout” of the Appellate Body will have on the international economic and trade order. At a November 22 meeting, a Norwegian representative warned that “winter is coming.”

“This will make the dispute settlement mechanism unable to operate normally, seriously undermining the authority and effectiveness of multilateral trading regime,” Hua said.


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