10 7th Aug 2018 THE HINDU Editorial Analysis
The problem at the WTO While Bretton Woods institutions were to embed the new financial trade order, U.S. Treasury department official, Harry Dexter White, and economist John Maynard Keynes had more than just the regulation of the international monetary system in mind at the time An International Trade Organisation (ITO) was also to be created to e stablish multilateral rules for the settlement of trade disputes. Adherence to the rules of an international trade organisation was expected to serve as an important domestic motivation (and imperative) for governments by allowing them to resist protectionist demands and provide for greater legal certainty Successive multilateral conferences were held between 1946 and 1948, and
....ed to the adoption of the Havana Charter, a draft agreement for the creation of the ITO. But the ITO never came into existence as it was eventually rejected by the U.S. when, in 1950, President Harry Truman announced that he would not submit the Havana Charter to the Congress. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) came to replace the ITO, interestingly as an ad hoc and provisional mechanism Four decades later, the U.S. drove the agenda to establish the World Trade Organisation (WTO) purely to pursue its own commercial interests. The U.S. has been long proven isolationist and has never truly embraced the idea of a multilateral system in which its leadership could be contested So the recent outrage against its very creations, from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the less recent disenchantment with NATO or UNESCO, is not surprising
A closer look at the Doha round of trade negotiations shows that the US. may well have consciously (or not) destroyed the negotiation process in formulating excessive demands that no country was prepared to meet. After all, the priority of the Obama administration was not to revive a dying WTO negotiation, but to concentrate on its newly created alternative, the TPP, to contain its competitors: Europe and China For years now, the multilateral system for the settlement of trade dispute has been under intense scrutiny and constant criticism. The U.S. has systematically blocked the appointment of new Appellate Body members ("judges") and obstructed the work of the WTO appeal mechanism With only four working members out of seven normally serving office in July 2018, the institution is under great stress. If no appointment is made, it will simply be destroyed by December 2019, with only one remaining.
...member to tackle a massive number of disputes that are also increasingly hypertechnical. Importantly, the Appellate Body requires a core of three members to decide a dispute Criticism against the dispute settlement system is not the monopoly of the U.S. Other WTO members are expressing concerns over the politicisation of the Appellate Body appointment and reappointment process, and the supposed asignment of permanent Appellate Body seats to the U.S. and the European Union (EU). There is concern that China may be on its way to having a permanent seat o But the main critique of the U.S. relates to "overreaching" or judicial activism. The WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding stresses that the dispute panels cannot "add to or diminish the rights and obligations" provided for by the WTO agreements. The U.S. has relentlessly attacked....
...the practice of some Appellate Body members continuing to hear cases which have been assigned to them during their tenure . However, the U.S. has to be blamed for this situation. With no fresh filling up of vacancies and reappointment of members whose terms are expiring, Washington is deliberately pushing the WTO legal mechanism to the brink. It is more than evident that the U.S. is not willing to be judged by an independent multilateral quasi-judicial institution e needs to bear in mind that the WTO dispute settlement mechanism is not a world trade court. The process remains political and diplomatic. The very existence of an appeal mechanism is now paradoxically questioned at a time the global community criticises the absence of the same m in Investor-State Dispute Settlement
Beijing might well be the new WTO leader and China's growing assertiveness may be the reason for the U.S.'s hard stand. Since its entry in to the Organisation, in 2001, and despite an extremely demanding protocol of acceptance into the WTO designed by the U.S. and the EU to literally constrain China's emerging power and limit the impact of its commercial domination on their own economies, China has largely benefited from the rules-based WTO system . In less than a decade since its first dispute, China has accumulated a vast experience close to that of the U.S. or Europe, so much so that Beijing, together with the EU, and to some extent India, and a few others, is now the main supporter of multilateralism But an undemocratic China is unlikely to hold the legitimacy to lead the system in a genuine manner. The recent EU-China proposal to promote the
....reform of the WTO is said to combat "unilateralism and protectionism" but might well fail to address unfair trade issues raised against China itself. Therefore, Beijing is unlikely to unite with Brussels against Washington Today's WTO crisis might well be the last ditch battle to retain control over a Western-centric organisation. The time has come for the emerging economies and the developing world to have a greater say in how to shape multilateralism and its institutions
Anatomy of an outbreak . The Ebola virus returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) just days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced, on July 24, that the Ebola outbreak had ended there. The tenth instance in the country since the virus was discovered in 1976 e While Congo has displayed its considerable experience and also promptness in its response, WHO has also made similar moves. Hours after the outbreak was declared on May 8, WHO released $1 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies o Its multidisciplinary team began an active search for cases and people who had come in contact with those who were infected. Then, treatment facilities and mobile laboratories were set up and the community educated
....on safe practices. In 2014, when Ebola had struck three West African countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), these measures were delayed and were responsible for the spread and high mortality . In the 2014 West African epidemic, WHO's Emergency Committee convened only after some 1,000 people had died. This time around, it convened 10 days after the outbreak was declared on May 8 o But despite the heightened global risk, the committee has not viewed it to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern', which is a formal WHO declaration There are two main reasons for this. The first is the "rapid and comprehensive" response by the government, WHO and other partners. The second reason is the availability of VSV-EBOV, an investigational..
o While it took nearly 30 months to control the 2014 West African epidemic (more than 28,600 people were infected and 11,300 died), it took less than three months in the case of the May 8 outbreak. On July 24, the total number of laboratory confirmed cases was just 38 (and 16 more probable cases) while the number of deaths was 33 outbreak. on July 24, the of laboratory conf
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