EU, 15 WTO members set arrangement for trade disputes

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The EU and 15 World Trade Organization (WTO) members on Friday announced that they have reached a contingency appeal arrangement for trade disputes, according to a statement.

The Multiparty Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement will allow the EU and 15 WTO members to bring appeals and solve trade disputes among them despite the WTO Appellate Body not being fully functional.

The communique said that the agreement underscores the importance that the participating WTO members -- the EU, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and Uruguay -- attach to a functioning two-step dispute settlement system at the WTO.

"Today's agreement delivers on the political commitment taken at ministerial level in Davos in January," Phil Hogan, the EU commissioner for Trade, said.

"This is a stop-gap measure to reflect the temporary paralysis of the WTO's appeal function for trade disputes."

He added: "We will continue our efforts to restore the appeal function of the WTO dispute settlement system as a matter of priority."

Hogan, in the meantime, invited other WTO members to join the open arrangement, which is "crucial for the respect and enforcement of international trade rules."

The arrangement mirrors the usual WTO appeal rules and can be used between any members of the organization willing to join, as long as the WTO Appellate Body is not fully functional.

The EU said it expected the agreement to be officially notified to the WTO in the coming weeks, once the respective WTO members complete their internal procedures, after which it will become operational.

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