Germany aims to find a permanent solution for the composition of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Appellate Body by June, a spokeswoman for Berlin’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
The Appellate Body has seven members but needs a minimum of three judges to function. The term of the two remaining judges expires on Tuesday.
The United States has been blocking the appointment of new judges for two years. The US strategy means that the so-called Supreme Court of Trade stopped being functional as of Tuesday evening.
Washington is also blocking the initiative driven by 100 member countries to begin the recruitment of new judges. An alternative plan is to create an alternative appeals process that would mirror the WTO court without Washington’s participation.
The Donald Trump administration has repeatedly accused the WTO Appellate Body of siding with its rivals, including China, overreaching its authority. The dispute focuses on the definition of what constitutes “dumping,” that is, the sale of cheap goods onto foreign markets below market price.
Washington threatens further escalation, by blocking the WTO’s 2020 budget. Ultimately, what is called into question is the integrity of the WTO as such, which for 25 years has been the guarantor of a multilateral trade regime.