Trump Intentionally Cripples The WTO

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Although the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in favor of the United States far more often than not, the Trump regime would apparently prefer it if the WTO is no longer capable of ruling on trade cases for the foreseeable future.

The WTO's appellate court needs at least three judges to continue functioning but two of the remaining three will see their terms expire tomorrow and the Trump regime is blocking the appointment of any new judges; meaning the court literally can't function.

Another attempt was made on Monday to reach a consensus on laying down arrangements for filling the vacancies, as well as obliging the appeals panel to issue rulings within 90 days.

But the U.S. ambassador to the WTO, Dennis Shea, said other members had not addressed Washington’s concerns about what he called the court’s “overreach” and “disregard” of WTO rules.

Shea said in a speech, the text of which was released by the U.S. mission, that the United States did not support the proposal to start filling Appellate Body positions.

The Trump regime did not call it "overreach," of course, when the court recently ruled in favor of granting them the legal authority to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion in European goods in response to subsidies for European aerospace giant Airbus. Those tariffs went into effect on October 18th.

The regime also did not call it it "overreach" when, in the last week, the appellate court rejected an appeal of those tariffs filed by the European Union.

The WTO has also ruled against the United States several times during Trump's tenure, most recently when the court found that the United States unfairly sanctioned China's clean energy industry, but even once is evidently one too many.

I cannot help but suspect this is a deliberate effort to prevent the WTO from green-lighting European tariffs on American goods in response to subsides for Boeing. Trump reveled in the WTO's Airbus ruling, but the trade body also found that the United States has illegally subsidized their biggest rival and competitor.

I believe the White House would be wrong to think this will prevent the European Union or other trading blocs from imposing retaliatory tariffs. If anything, crippling the WTO will give other countries all the justification they need to act unilaterally in the face of Trump. They're the only ones still trying to follow the rules, but crippling the WTO may free them.

And Trump's Forever Trade War will continue.

  • muselet

    Without the WTO, there is no institution within which countries can litigate their trade disputes. Instead, it will be tit-for-tat tariffs as far as the eye can see.

    This is going to get very ugly very quickly.