Save the WTO from deadly blow by Trump, urge S&Ds in defence of rules-based trade

The European Parliament’s international trade committee yesterday evening unanimously backed a strong resolution calling for an urgent unblocking of the appointment of judges to the World Trade Organisation’s Appellate Body, its Geneva-based court that arbitrates trade disputes. Tonight’s debate in plenary will be followed by a resolution voted this Thursday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Bernd Lange, S&D MEP and chair of the international trade committee, said after the vote:

“We have three weeks left to save the WTO from a potentially deadly blow by Trump. If the US continue to block the appointment of yet another judge, the WTO will no longer be able to hear cases and resolve disputes among trade partners. Blowing up the WTO’s Appellate Body is akin to abolishing traffic courts and leaving people to resort to fist law in the wake of car accidents. Without a binding and independent court, trade disputes could quickly lapse into tit-for-tat tariff wars and trade relations go back to the law of the jungle.

“The European Union must continue the fight to strengthen and modernize the WTO. The WTO is a supporting pillar of our open, rules-based and multilateral trade system, but it needs an updated rule-book to adequately protect our workers and our industries.”

Note to the editor:

On 10 December 2019, the mandates of two of the three remaining Appellate Body members will expire and the Appellate Body will cease to function as three members are necessary to hear any new cases. Since 2017, the United States is blocking the replacement or re-appointment of any Appellate Body members, which has dwindled from seven to currently three. The US administration is currently also blocking the WTO’s biennial budget for 2020 and 2021.