Alicia Nicholls

On March 27, 2020, several Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed on a stop gap measure to ensure the continuation of a two-step system for the peaceful and orderly settlement of trade disputes amongst them at the WTO.

Readers would recall that in December 2019 the WTO Appellate Body lost the quorum needed for hearing new appeals from panel reports and is no longer functioning. It is the sad culmination of the US’ blockage of appointments/re-appointments to the normally seven-member body in protest over alleged judicial overreach.

What’s the Multiparty Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement?

The new temporary arrangement agreed on today, known as the Multiparty Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement (MPIA), is based on Article 25 of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding. The MPIA will be based on the substantive and procedural aspects of the Appellate Body. Any Member may join the MPIA upon notification of endorsement of the communication to the Dispute Settlement Body. The arrangement will be in place as long as the Appellate Body remains defunct.

This interim appeal initiative, which was spearheaded by the EU, is further to a statement which was made on January 4, 2020 at Davos in which the EU and then sixteen other WTO Members agreed to work on such an arrangement.

Who’s already in?

In addition to the EU, the fifteen other WTO Members which have already signed on are: Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Guatemala; Hong Kong, China; Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; Singapore; Switzerland; and Uruguay. No Caribbean country has signed on as yet.

For further information

The Ministerial Statement may be accessed here.

The full text of the Multiparty Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement may be read here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international trade and development consultant. You can also read more of her commentaries at www.caribbeantradelaw.com and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

DISCLAIMER: All views expressed herein are her personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of any institution or entity with which she may be affiliated from time to time.