The U.S. on Tuesday continued to block the selection process for panelists on the World Trade Organization Appellate Body (AB), a Geneva trade official said in an email.
The AB has four vacancies, with two current members on the seven-position panel expected to depart in December, which would render the AB inoperative.
During a WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) meeting on Tuesday, Mexico, speaking on behalf of 75 WTO members, again introduced the group’s proposal to start the selection process to fill the AB vacancies, and said the “considerable” number of members submitting the proposal reflects a common concern that the AB situation is seriously affecting WTO dispute settlement functions, the trade official said.
Mexico said, “WTO members have a responsibility to safeguard and preserve the AB, the dispute settlement system and the multilateral trading system,” according to the Geneva source.
The proposal led by Mexico calls for the establishment of a selection committee for new AB members, nomination of candidates within 30 days and the issuance of committee recommendations within 60 days.
During Tuesday’s DSB meeting, China and Russia “specifically criticized” the U.S., as China expressed regrets that one member’s “illegitimate blockage” was continuing to frustrate the collective efforts of members, according to the Geneva trade official.
Norway said it was “fascinated” the U.S. kept repeating that its concerns remain unaddressed while many members were clearly working hard to address U.S. concerns.
In December, an informal process was launched at the WTO to overcome the impasse of the selection of AB members, wherein members have debated AB reform. DSB Chair Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand on Tuesday said he would continue the informal process before reporting on progress to the WTO General Council on July 23.