U.S. President Donald Trump holds a signed memorandum on intellectual property tariffs on high-tech goods from China, at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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U.S. President Donald Trump has the World Trade Organization in a chokehold, and the United States has made clear what he wants – no more judicial rulings that interpret WTO rules to Washington's disadvantage. Trump has effectively engineered a crisis in the WTO's system of settling global disputes by vetoing all appointments of judges to its appeals chamber.Trade experts dispute this, saying all countries that go to the WTO have a broadly similar rate of winning and losing. While one U.S. judge sits on the Appellate Body, most of the WTO's 164 members have no representative there, the experts note.Since 1995, the WTO has handled over 500 disputes and its membership has expanded to cover around 95 percent of world trade, which has more than tripled to around $18 trillion per year in goods alone.This year Trump has caused an international outcry with the metals tariffs and a $150 billion tariff threat against China for allegedly stealing U.S. intellectual property.Sixty-six WTO members have backed a petition calling for the United States to drop its appointments veto, but there is no agreement on how to avoid the collapse of dispute settlement.Ambassador Junichi Ihara said WTO members should refrain from disputes which are "essentially political".
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