Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

2020

Abstract

Recent survey evidence and proposals made in long-running negotiations to improve WTO dispute settlement procedures illustrate that many stakeholders believe the system needs improvement. The Appellate Body crisis could have been avoided but for the use of consensus as WTO working practice. Resolving the crisis should prove possible because the matter mostly concerns a small number of more powerful WTO members. We make several proposals to revitalize the WTO appellate function but argue that unless the WTO becomes a locus for new rulemaking, re-establishing the appellate function will not prevent a steady decline in the salience of the organization. A key challenge is that plurilateral cooperation go beyond a focus on good regulatory practices and coordination failures and address sources of major trade spillovers. Doing so will depend on resolving the dispute settlement conflict given the need for new plurilateral agreements to be enforceable.

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