Switzerland and 18 other WTO members establish interim appeals procedure for settling trade disputes

Bern, 30.04.2020 -  Switzerland and 18 other WTO members officially informed the WTO on 30 April 2020 that they had agreed upon an interim appeals procedure in place of the WTO Appellate Body, which has been inoperative since December 2019. Under the temporary multiparty agreement, an arbitration tribunal will hear appeals based on existing WTO rules. The arrangement will remain in force until the Appellate Body becomes fully operational again. The Federal Council decided on 3 April 2020 that Switzerland should join the agreement.

The purpose of the agreement is to resolve the uncertainties surrounding the current situation of the WTO Appellate Body. Since 2017, the USA has been blocking the appointment of new judges to the Appellate Body, rendering it inoperative since 11 December 2019. The multiparty agreement establishes an interim procedure that allows participating members to appeal panel decisions on trade disputes by means of an existing arbitration procedure under the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). The agreement will remain in force until the Appellate Body becomes fully functional again.

Besides Switzerland, 18 other WTO members have joined the temporary agreement: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Singapore, Ukraine and Uruguay. These include many states that frequently make use of the WTO dispute settlement procedure. At present, Switzerland is not involved in any disputes with the current members. The agreement is open to any WTO member wishing to join.

Switzerland supports a rules-based multilateral trading system and therefore has a strong interest in resolving the current problem. The temporary agreement allows the conclusive settlement of trade disputes, thereby increasing the planning ability of economic stakeholders. While the reinstatement of the Appellate Body remains a priority for Switzerland and the other participating members, the temporary and non-binding agreement is a pragmatic and flexible solution to the current situation. In the meantime, Switzerland will continue working towards achieving a lasting solution with all WTO members.

Address for enquiries

Antje Baertschi, Head of Communication and Media Spokesperson, SECO
antje.baertschi@seco.admin.ch, +41 58 463 52 75


The Federal Council

Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research

Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research

Last modification 16.11.2017

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