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Trade will regress to an era of power politics, says India

The country’s statement comes after a group of 117 members including India sought to start the selection processes for filling six vacancies in the appellate body that will not have a quorum to review new trade dispute appeals after December 10 when the second terms of two members expire. There are four existing vacancies in the panel.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 07, 2019, 08.21 AM IST
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“Trade will rapidly regress to an era of power politics,” India told WTO at a meeting of heads of delegation.
NEW DELHI: The closure of the World Trade Organization Appellate Body early next week marks a “total breakdown of trust within the WTO and will have a debilitating effect on its other pillars as well”, India said on Friday.

The country’s statement comes after a group of 117 members including India sought to start the selection processes for filling six vacancies in the appellate body that will not have a quorum to review new trade dispute appeals after December 10 when the second terms of two members expire. There are four existing vacancies in the panel.

“Trade will rapidly regress to an era of power politics,” India told WTO at a meeting of heads of delegation.

However, the US has said it was not in a position to agree to the proposal because its systemic concerns regarding the appellate body remain unaddressed.

The US has blocked the appointment of judges for more than two years, crippling the multilateral trade agency’s dispute settlement mechanism. “While we agree that the dispute settlement system does require improvement, we believe that the systematic assault on its very existence is neither appropriate nor was necessary,” India said.

New Delhi said with four days to go before curtains come down on the WTO Appellate Body, “it is clear that the binding, two-stage, independent dispute settlement mechanism, that gave teeth and credibility to the rules based multilateral trading system is well and truly dead”.

FISHERIES, AGRICULTURE
New Delhi cautioned WTO members that in sensitive areas like fisheries and agriculture, where livelihoods of a large number of the poor and marginalised are at stake, reneging from a commitment to provide special and differential treatment will derail these delicate negotiations.

Talks on these issues are likely to come up on December 9-11 when the WTO holds its final General Council of 2019. The council is the highest decision-making body of the trade organisation outside the ministerial conferences.

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