India, China and the EU have suggested changes in the employment conditions for filling vacancies in the appellate body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) amid attempts by the US to block the selection process.
In a joint proposal, which will be discussed at the WTO over next two days, the countries have sought judges’ membership as an “exclusive occupation” instead of a part-time job, as at present.
They have also suggested that the number of such members be increased to nine, from seven, with a longer, single term of six-eight years compared with four years now.
“Today, we see more protectionist measures in a year than at any time in the recent past; more dispute panels being set up in a period of 30 days than in the whole year 2017; and a spate of unilateral measures and counter measures amidst escalating trade tensions,” India told the WTO on Monday.
India emphasised that without an effective system of enforcement of rules, the appetite for new rules or reforms will be limited. The appellate body (AB) has been reduced to three members from seven due to the US blocking the selection process. Its strength will drop to one this month when two more members—Ujal Singh Bhatia of India and Thomas Graham of the US—retire at the end of their second term.
Besides blocking the appointment of new members and vetoing extension to those who retire, the US has blamed the appellate body for over-stepping its authority by reviewing and reversing factual findings by trade arbitration panels and interpreting WTO members’ domestic laws.
To ensure an orderly transition between the outgoing and new appellate body members, the proposal suggests “outgoing members to continue discharging their duties until their places have been filled, but not longer than for a period of two years following the expiry of the term of office”.
This is the second proposal on reforming the WTO’s dispute settlement body, of which India is a part. In a joint proposal with 11 others — the EU, China, Canada, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Korea, Iceland, Singapore and Mexico, on November 26 — India had stated the “successful contribution of the dispute settlement system to the security and predictability of the multilateral trading system”.
Source : PTI