India Urges WTO Talks for Dispute Settlement Body Reform


During a recent meeting of senior WTO officials in Geneva, concerns were raised about the informal nature of the talks….reports Asian Lite News

India has urged WTO members to move from informal to formal negotiations regarding the reform of the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement body. The current informal talks are seen as a barrier for many nations to participate effectively. An official suggested that formal discussions could lead to a consensus by the 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi in February, the highest decision-making body of the WTO.

During a recent meeting of senior WTO officials in Geneva, concerns were raised about the informal nature of the talks. India emphasized the need to maintain the credibility of the WTO by formalizing the negotiation process, stating that discussions were crucial for the organization.

The WTO’s dispute settlement body plays a pivotal role in monitoring global trade rules and resolving disputes between member countries. However, the current informal talks, initiated by the US, have left some members unable to fully participate due to limitations such as the lack of interpretation facilities and conflicting schedules with other WTO meetings.

India and others have pushed for these discussions to be formalized within the Committee on DSB to ensure all members can actively engage and contribute their perspectives. Formal talks in the WTO typically involve the submission of papers on the subject for discussion among all members.

While the US has initiated discussions on DSB reforms, they’ve focused on peripheral changes. India, among other developing countries, emphasizes the need for a two-tier system, which is fundamental for the smooth functioning of the dispute settlement mechanism.

However, the dispute settlement mechanism has faced challenges, particularly since the US has blocked appointments to the appellate body. This has led to a halt in its functioning since December 2019, although panels are still operational. The US aims to restructure the system, advocating for alternatives to litigation such as conciliation and mediation, restricting panels to address only necessary matters, and avoiding judicial overreach.

To resolve these issues, there’s a strong call for a formal negotiation process to reform the dispute settlement body in the WTO, enabling broader participation and consensus-building among member nations.

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