On 31 July, the participants in the multi-party interim appeal arrangement (MPIA) notified the WTO of the ten arbitrators who will hear appeals of WTO panel reports under the MPIA. This marks the final step to make the MPIA operational for disputes between the participants. While the MPIA remains a stop-gap solution in the absence of an operational WTO Appellate Body, it allows participants to benefit from an appeal process in the WTO dispute settlement system.
Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan said: “With the agreed pool of arbitrators, the interim appeal arrangement for the WTO disputes is now up and running. I am grateful to the arbitrators for participating in this important mechanism, and to the other participants for engaging in a very constructive way in selecting the arbitrators. It shows that participating WTO members are willing to take concrete action to preserve an independent dispute settlement system with an appeal function. We can now turn our attention to finding a solution to the underlying problems through reform of the WTO Appellate Body and other aspects of the WTO system that need improvement.”
Under the MPIA, the pool of arbitrators comprises persons of recognised authority, with demonstrated expertise in law, international trade and the WTO Agreements. In a process that started in June this year, MPIA participants put forward candidates, conducted interviews, and agreed on the ten individuals who will serve as arbitrators under the arrangement. In any WTO dispute between participants where a party triggers an appeal against a WTO panel report, three members of the pool are selected randomly to hear an appeal under the arrangement.
The MPIA is in effect since 30 April 2020. Today, the EU and 22 other WTO members are participants in this arrangement to the WTO, which provides them with a functioning and independent two-tier dispute settlement system in disputes between them. It will apply until the WTO’s Appellate Body is once again able to function.
The EU’s priority remains resolving the current WTO Appellate Body impasse as part of a wider reform of the WTO. This is even more important now that the public health situation has re-emphasised the need for a properly functioning, multilateral, rules-based global trading system.