High hopes of WTO resuscitation under Joe Biden

There are expectations the Biden administration may allow appointment of new judges under the international trade body and resumption of its appellate tribunal’s ability to undertake dispute resolution, thus restoring international trade standards.

Reuters
WTO could get a new lease of life under the new US President Joe Biden with experts betting on the pro-multilateralism approach of the Democrats in general.
Agencies
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New Delhi: The World Trade Organization (WTO), which had virtually become non-functional under Donald Trump’s presidency, could get a new lease of life under the new US President Joe Biden with experts betting on the pro-multilateralism approach of the Democrats in general.

There are expectations the Biden administration may allow appointment of new judges under the international trade body and resumption of its appellate tribunal’s ability to undertake dispute resolution, thus restoring international trade standards.

“Not just WTO, prospects of all other international processes look better under Biden. With a more diplomatic approach, the new administration is expected to bring more certainty to the fate of WTO and its dealings with the trade body,” Biswajit Dhar, professor of Economics at the JNU said.


Last month, the US opposed the WTO nominations committee recommendation to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as director general and blocked the four-month selection process to find its next head as it supported South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee. Okonjo-Iweala would be the first woman and first African to lead the WTO.

This is in addition to Washington blocking appointment of judges for more than three years, crippling the multilateral trade agency’s dispute settlement mechanism. It has criticised its “flawed” interpretation in various cases, failure to issue reports within the mandatory period of 90 days, its composition and compensation to the members. Experts are hopeful that these blockades would go and the multilateral mechanism would begin functioning.

“Democrats are not pro free-trade but pro-multilateralism. Hopefully, they will ensure that WTO is revived,” Pradeep S Mehta, founder secretary general of CUTS International said. Mehta has been the NGO adviser to the director general, WTO. Another expert said the US has extracted benefits from the WTO and will not let it die.
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