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World trade without rules? US shuts down WTO appeals court

The World Trade Organization was shut down on Tuesday at midnight, as the terms of two of the last three judges of the appellate body ended. Their departure effectively deprives the de facto Supreme Court of world trade of its ability to issue rulings, leaving the court to face what critics are calling the “law of the jungle.” The WTO shutdown leaves countries unable to reach a final resolution of disputes, as well as seven cases still in limbo that have been brought against Trump’s decision to declare foreign steel and aluminum a threat to national security and impose taxes on them.

Experts state that the shut down of the WTO is a crisis for the US’s global trading system and that the loss of the court of final appeals is dangerous for American businesses. The WTO panel is supposed to consist of seven judges, but these numbers have dwindled throughout the last several administrations. Trump has been a critic of the WTO himself, arguing that the trade organizations restrain America’s ability to effectively counter unfair trading practices by other countries, namely China. Other countries have also criticized the WTO’s system, claiming that cases take too long to resolve and are ill-equipped to deal with the challenge posed by the Chinese economy. Reforms within the WTO are difficult to implement because it requires consensus from 164 member countries. The shutdown was received poorly by several of the other member countries such as China and EU countries.

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OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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