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PIB Summary for UPSC

29 February -2024

1. India calls for restoration of Appellate Body and Dispute Settlement Reforms at ongoing WTO Ministerial Conference-13 in Abu Dhabi

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Important International institutions, agencies and fora
Critical for UPSC as it involves India’s stance at WTO, emphasizing Appellate Body restoration and Dispute Settlement (DS) reform’s multilateralization.
Context
  • India, at WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference, urges the urgent restoration of the non-functional Appellate Body and formalization of Dispute Settlement (DS) reform discussions, emphasizing the need for inclusivity and transparency.
 Additional information on this news:
  • India, at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference, emphasized the urgent need to restore the non-functional Appellate Body, a key component of the Dispute Settlement (DS) system, disrupted since December 2019.
  • The absence of the Appellate Body raised concerns about the credibility of the WTO and its rules-based trade order.
  • India recalled the commitment made at the 12th Ministerial Conference for a fully functional DS system accessible to all Members by 2024.
  • Despite deficiencies in the informal DS reform discussions over the past year, India engaged in good faith but highlighted challenges faced by developing countries, especially least-developed countries (LDCs).
  • India proposed a three-point action plan: transition reform discussions to formal WTO bodies, ensure effective multilateralization, and prioritize the restoration of the Appellate Body to uphold a credible and reliable multilateral trading system.
More about World Trade Organisation (WTO)
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization that deals with the global rules of trade between nations.
  • Established on January 1, 1995, the WTO replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and expanded its scope to include services and intellectual property.
  • The primary goal is to facilitate trade negotiations, resolve trade disputes, and establish a framework for international trade rules.
  • The WTO operates on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency, and reciprocity, aiming to create a level playing field for all member countries.
  • There are 164 member countries, representing a significant portion of the global economy.
  • The organization holds ministerial conferences regularly to address trade issues and make decisions on policy matters.
  • The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body helps resolve trade disputes among member countries through a structured legal process.
  • Critics argue that the WTO faces challenges in addressing the diverse interests and development needs of its member countries.
Appellate Body & Dispute Settlement (DS) of WTO
  • Dispute Settlement (DS): WTO’s system for resolving trade disputes between member countries.
  • Appellate Body: Established in 1995 under the DSU agreement.
  • Composed of: 7 individuals with legal and trade expertise, appointed for 4-year terms with one reappointment possible.
  • Function: Reviews appeals from reports issued by panels in disputes.
  • Powers: Uphold, modify, or reverse legal findings and conclusions of panels.
  • Reports: Adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) unless all members reject.
  • Current Status: Not functioning due to lack of appointments, impacting the WTO’s dispute settlement process.
PYQ: What are the key areas of reform if the WTO has to survive in the present context of ‘Trade War’, especially keeping in mind the interest of India? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2018)
Practice Question:  Critically examine the current status of the Appellate Body within the WTO’s dispute settlement system and its implications for global trade governance. (150 words/10 m)

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