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India Advocates Urgent Restoration of WTO's Appellate Body at DS Reforms Working Session

India Advocates Urgent Restoration of WTO’s Appellate Body at DS Reforms Working Session


Abu Dhabi:  Taking a resolute stance at the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference held at Abu Dhabi, India has emphasized the critical need for the swift restoration of the Appellate Body as the foremost priority in the ongoing Dispute Settlement (DS) reforms. The Working Session, held on February 28, delved into the challenges faced by the DS system and the urgent call for formalizing the informal reform discussions among WTO Members.

WTO Members acknowledged the non-functionality of the Appellate Body since December 2019, attributed to the United States blocking the appointment of its Members. This situation has not only questioned the credibility of the WTO but also challenged the rules-based trade order it is designed to uphold.

India, recalling the commitment made during the 12th Ministerial Conference, urged Members to conduct discussions aimed at establishing a fully functional dispute settlement system accessible to all Members by 2024. The country reiterated its belief that a robust DS system is fundamental to an equitable, effective, secure, and predictable multilateral trading system.

Highlighting its year-long engagement in informal DS reform discussions, India expressed concerns about the deficiencies in the process, particularly its impact on developing countries, especially the least-developed countries (LDCs). The format and pace of discussions posed significant challenges, hindering the effective participation of developing countries.

As a way forward, India proposed a three-point action plan: Transitioning discussions on dispute settlement reforms to formal WTO bodies, preferably under the guidance of the Dispute Settlement Body Chair, aligning with the mandates of the MC12 Ministerial Declaration.

Ensuring an effective multilateralization of the process, prioritizing Member-driven, open, transparent, and inclusive procedures that consider the capacity and technical challenges of developing countries and LDCs. Members should have the flexibility to introduce new proposals at any stage, with resulting texts reflecting consensus-based views. Prioritizing the restoration of the Appellate Body as a crucial component of the reform process.

India’s assertive stance aims to bring urgency to the DS reform discussions and reinforce the importance of a functioning Appellate Body in maintaining a rules-based global trade order. The call for swift action resonates with the broader objective of fortifying the WTO’s credibility and ensuring fair dispute resolution mechanisms for all Members.

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