Trade Dispute Current Affairs - 2020

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United States shuts down WTO appeal court

The Appeal Court of the World Trade Organization that acts as trade dispute settlement body for the members was shut down by the United States on December 9, 2019. The seven-member body that was cut down to a 3-member body in 2018 is now completely blocked by the United States.

Without WTO’s appellate body, the dispute settlement will return to pre-1995 GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) status quo.

Highlights

The WTO dispute settlement body has provided 120 rulings out of 592 registered cases. Out of the 120, many were solved outside WTO as well. Experts in other countries also believe that the WTO system of settlement of disputes take too long to resolve.

The WTO appellate body judges and their ranks have been dwindled in the past under the other Presidents of the US as well. It includes George Bush, Barack Obama and Trump. Apart from US, other countries also believe that the WTO is ill-equipped to deal with the challenge posed by the Chinese unconventional blend of state control and capitalism. The alternate solution of reforming the system is difficult as it requires consensus from 164 member countries.

GATT

The GATT is a legal agreement among several countries. It was signed by 23 nations in 1947. In 1993, 76 members of GATT and European community came together to create World Trade Organization.

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G20 Ministerial meeting on Trade and Digital Economy

G20 Ministerial meeting on Trade and Digital Economy is being held from 8 June- 9 June 2019 in Japanese city of Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Tsukuba is Japan’s one of main academic and research centers.

Key Highlights

  • Background: Japan has assumed its 1st ever rotating presidency in G20 thus a series of various ministerial meetings are being held in Japanese cities in 2019. Japan’s presidency will be culminating during G20 summit in Osaka on 28-29 June 2019.
  • Chairman: Two day meet was chaired by Masatoshi Ishida, Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications and Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
  • Objective: to discuss how economies of G20 countries can promote trade and investment and maximize benefits from development of digital economy and technologies so as to ensure sustainable growth of global economy.
  • Feature:
  • Over 50 Trade and Digital Economy Ministers got together for 1st time in G20 history in Tsukuba, Japan.
  • G20 Trade Ministers deliberations will form part of G20 Summit Leaders agenda in formal discussions and will also be a part of Summit Declaration.
  • The meet discussed importance of Digitalization that is expected to continue to create benefits for economies and societies as a whole and will also help achieve inclusive, innovative and human-centred future society ‘Society 5.0’.
  • Discussions:
  • Issues related to free trade dominated discussion in meeting against backdrop of ongoing trade war between United States (US) and China and US President Donald Trump’s policy of creating trade barriers and imposing tariffs.
  • Ways to reorder trade rules and finances in an era of technological change and protectionism were also discussed.

India and G20 Meet

  • Background: Ever since G20 was founded in 1999, India has been actively participating in its meetings. Indian delegation for G20 Ministerial meeting on Trade and Digital Economy is being led by Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry & Railways.
  • Discussion: Indian Commerce Minister will discuss developments in World Trade Organisation (WTO) matters, global trade situation, Digital trade and will also hold dialogue with other participating Trade Ministers on issues related to current international trade and investments.
  • Significance: This is for first time that Ministers of Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Union Ministry of Commerce (MCA) will participate in a joint session on Digital Economy at G20 Ministerial Meeting.

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