The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTOAB) is a standing body of seven persons that hears appeals from reports issued by panels in disputes brought on by WTO members. The WTOAB can uphold, modify or reverse the legal findings and conclusions of a panel, and Appellate Body Reports, once adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), must be accepted by the parties to the dispute. The WTOAB has its seat in Geneva, Switzerland. It has been termed by at least one journalist as "effectively the supreme court of world trade".
The WTOAB was established in 1995 under Article 17 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU).
Under the mandate of the Trump administration, the US held up appointments to the WTOAB. A journalist said that the delay was an effort to skew arbitration in its favour. On 9 April 2019, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in reference to past adjudications over the policy of zeroing that the WTOAB had been "overreaching", as the government of Justin Trudeau was punished by the Trump administration over softwood lumber.
The Trump defect will crystallise on the 11th of December 2019. In default of an WTOAB adjudication board, the EU and Canada reached an agreement whereby the WTOAB is replicated as closely as possible. Under this agreement, former WTO judges will hear appeals between the two entities after the Trump defect has been crystallized. The Trump administration has repeatedly pleaded for redress and is using the leverage at its disposal.
- "WTO permits U.S. to use long-outlawed policy to calculate anti-dumping tariffs on softwood lumber". The Globe and Mail Inc. 9 April 2019.
- "Canada and EU make deal to work around U.S. block on WTO judge appointments". The Globe and Mail Inc. 25 July 2019.
- Appellate Body on WTO website
- How dispute settlement works
- Jens Lehne, Crisis at the WTO: Is the Blocking of Appointments to the WTO Appellate Body by the United States Legally Justified?, Berlin/Bern 2019
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