Paralysis of the WTO’s Appellate Body and WTO Reform
(Statement by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu)
1. On December 10, 2019, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) fell into a position of being unable to hearing new appeals. The WTO members have long shared a deep concern that the Appellate Body has been unable to play its expected role, which is to secure a positive solution and a prompt settlement of a dispute. Japan has shared this concern, and considered reforming the Appellate Body as an urgent matter to be addressed.
2. In recent years, the WTO has not been capable of adequately addressing protectionism, unfair trade practices, and emerging challenges caused by technological innovation and other changes. Against this backdrop, Japan has been taking initiatives of WTO reform. For example, Japan has been co-chairing the negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce at the WTO in order for the Organization to advance international rule-making on digital economy. On top of that, Japan has been facilitating the concerted efforts through promoting the “Osaka Track” since it was launched on the occasion of the G20 Osaka Summit in June this year.
3. At the G20 Aichi-Nagoya Foreign Ministers’ Meeting which I hosted last month, a strong sense of urgency was shared for the need of WTO reform such as solving the current impasse of the Appellate Body. In this relation, Japan has contributed to invigorating discussions at the WTO by presenting a concrete proposal in April this year. Toward the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference scheduled in June, 2020, Japan is determined to enhance a leadership even further for the discussions among the Members with a view to achieving substantial progress on various areas of the WTO reform.