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US Calls for Further WTO Dispute Settlement Reform Amid Accusations by India

 

 

During the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial meeting (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai emphasized the need for continued reform of the WTO’s dispute settlement system.

Her remarks came in response to accusations by India that the US was stalling progress within the trade body.

The dispute settlement system, particularly the appeals court, has faced significant challenges since 2019 when the US blocked the appointment of new judges, effectively halting its operations.

Tai acknowledged the complexities of reforming the system but highlighted the constructive dialogue taking place at MC13.

While there has been progress in certain areas of dispute settlement reform, Tai noted that significant challenges remain, particularly concerning the structure of the appeals mechanism.

The US has criticized the previous appellate body for what it perceives as overreach in interpreting WTO rules, suggesting that it had become too powerful and undermined the authority of member states.

India, however, has expressed frustration with the US stance, accusing it of bringing the WTO to a standstill. India’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal, emphasized the importance of reinstating the appellate body before progressing with new deals, citing concerns over the current impasse.

In response, Tai emphasized that progress was being made at MC13 and rejected the notion of a standstill. She highlighted the achievements of the previous ministerial conference (MC12) and emphasized the ongoing commitment to advancing discussions on dispute settlement reform.

The exchange underscores the divergent views among WTO member states regarding the pace and scope of reform efforts.

While the US stresses the need for cautious reform to address perceived shortcomings, India urges swift action to restore the functionality of the dispute settlement system.

 

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