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World Trade Organization ministerial conference begins in Abu Dhabi


World Trade Organization ministerial conference begins in Abu Dhabi

Photo: Reuters

The World Trade Organization (WTO) will host its 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi today.

Reformation of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism system will be the top priority for this year’s conference.

The WTO’s disspute settlement mechanism is meant to resolve disagreements between member countries fueled by alleged violations of WTO rules. These disagreements are heard by an appellate body of seven individuals which has been unable to hear cases since 2020 due to vacancies caused by US efforts to block new members.

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As a result, the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO has been paralyzed, leading to stalemates in the resolution of trade disputes. WTO members have actively been drafting potential deals with the US to end the stalemate.

The WTO is likely to present a compromise to the US to address some of its complaints regarding judicial overreach and inefficiency that emphasizes informal resolution of disputes and deadlines for dispute resolution. This conference closely coincides with a tight race for the US presidency, and the Biden administration is looking for wins to boost popularity. The WTO has become politically unpopular in the US, as many leaders have blamed it for a loss of jobs domestically. Expect the US to stifle efforts to reform dispute mechanisms, especially if they allow the WTO more power.

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