Dysfunctional System, Urgent Action Needed

Just four months ahead of the WTO’s Ministerial Conference, India is urging the organization to formally address the non-functional dispute settlement system. The US, whose actions initially hampered the system, has begun informal discussions on reform, but limitations like restricted participation raise concerns.

Challenges of Informal Discussions

The informal setting disadvantages members with limited Geneva representation, as well as logistical issues like translator availability. India, at the WTO Senior Officials’ meeting, called for a shift to a formal committee setting to ensure wider participation and resource allocation.

Maintaining Credibility

“Formalizing the process is crucial,” an official stated, emphasizing the need for open discussions to uphold the WTO’s credibility. While proposals await formal talks, India remains firm on a two-tier system with an appeals process.

The Root of the Issue

The US, frustrated by WTO rulings against them, blocked appointments to the appellate body, essentially paralyzing the system. They favor a more negotiation-based approach without an appeals process, citing cost and time concerns.

India’s Stance

“Their proposed reforms are peripheral,” stressed the official, reiterating India’s demand for a two-tier system with appeals. This dispute settlement system has been dormant since 2019, unable to enforce rulings due to the defunct appeals process.

Global Commitment, Local Implementation

Major trading nations pledged to revive the system by 2024, reiterated at G-20 meetings. Recent discussions encouraged wider participation to achieve progress ahead of the February WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi.

Can Consensus Be Found?

India’s push for formal talks highlights the urgency of reforming the WTO’s dispute settlement system. Despite ongoing discussions, reaching consensus on the structure and scope of reforms remains a critical challenge. Will the upcoming conference pave the way for a functional system or will this impasse continue?

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Pooja Patel, an accomplished editor with a focus on finance and market trends, contributes to Atom News with a dedication to providing insightful and accurate business news. Pooja's analytical approach adds depth to our coverage, keeping our audience well-informed.