World Trade Organization members provisionally agreed Thursday on a 2020 budget, likely averting a shutdown risk triggered by US threats to block funding over frustration with the body’s dispute settlement court.
“I can confirm that the budget committee today provisionally approved the WTO budget for 2020,” WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told AFP.
He added that the figure of a $197 million Swiss francs ($199.5 million, 179.6 million euros) required formal approval at a meeting next week of the General Council, the WTO’s highest decision making body.
The General Council has typically approved budgets that have been provisionally agreed by members.
The United States has historically been the WTO’s largest financial contributor, accounting for nearly 12 percent of the budget in 2018.
While US frustrations with the WTO pre-date Donald Trump’s presidency, his administration has dramatically escalated attacks on the body charged with safeguarding a rules-based international trade system.
Washington has in particular accused judges in the appellate chamber of the Dispute Settlement Body of disfunction and exceeding their mandate through broad rulings that violate national sovereignty.
Trump’s administration has also blocked the nomination of any new appellate judges.
The appeals chamber, sometimes called the supreme court of world trade, normally counts seven judges. But on December 10, two of the only three judges remaining are to conclude their mandate, and the appellate branch will no longer have the quorum required to hear cases.
Washington has also recently criticised the compensation paid to appellate judges.