World Trade Organization Current Affairs - 2020

BRICS Foreign ministers to attend COVID-19 meeting

The foreign ministers of the BRICS grouping are to discuss on measures to combat COVID-19. External Affairs Minister Shri S Jaishankar is to represent India at the meet.

Highlights

The video conference is to be hosted by Russia as it is the current rotating head. The ministers are to discuss possible joint measures to fight against the highly contagious, fast spreading and dangerous COVID-19.

BRICS

BRICS was established in 2009 and is the acronym of the members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. All the five BRICS members are the members of G20.

BRICS representations

The five members of the BRICS grouping contribute to 41% of the world population. The combined GDP of the five countries as of 2018 was 18.6 trillion USD.

Why is BRICS important for India?

There is a huge tug of war between the super powers US and China-Russia. India is stuck in the middle between the super powers. The BRICS platform is a good opportunity for India to balance its relations between these super powers

BRICS has recently become the voice of developing countries. This is mainly because the western countries are increasing their challenges on the issues starting from World Trade Organization till Climate change.

India is pursuing to get membership at the UNSC (United Nations Security Council). In order to achieve this, China is the major roadblock to India. Thus, BRICS acts as an opportunity to engage with China and resolve the disputes.

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.