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China, EU and Other WTO Members Decide to Establish a Multi-party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement

On March 27,China, the EU and more than a dozen other WTO members jointly issued a ministerial statement announcing their decision to establish a multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement in the WTO. The arrangement will use the arbitration procedures set out in Article 25 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes to hear dispute cases filed by the participants during the suspension of the Appellate Body. At present, the parties have agreed on the text of the multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement.

The dispute settlement system is one of the core functions of the WTO and plays an important role in maintaining the stability and predictability of the multilateral trading system. The Appellate Body is a permanent body specialized in hearing appeal cases, and is an important part of the dispute settlement system. As some WTO members continue to obstruct the selection of members of the Appellate Body, the Appellate Body has been shut down since December 11, 2019, which has hit hard the multilateral trading system.

At present, the establishment of a multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement is conducive to maintaining the operation of the WTO dispute settlement system and the rules-based multilateral trading system, showing the confidence and support of the international community in the multilateral trading system. China will work with other participants to inform the WTO of the arrangement soon, promote its formal implementation as soon as possible, and welcome other WTO members to participate.

The multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement is an interim measure during the suspension of the appellate body. Its ultimate goal is to start the selection of the members of the Appellate Body and restore its normal operation. The participants promised in the ministerial statement that they will continue to break the deadlock in the Appellate Body member selection firmly and actively and take it as a priority. China, together with other WTO members, will continue to promote the normal operation of the Appellate Body and maintain a rules-based multilateral trading system.

On Nov. 6, 2019, the delegation led by Mr. Patrick Nijs, co-founder of the EUCJIC attended the 2nd China International Import Expo Legal Forum - Cross-border Trade Investment and Legal Protection for SME. In his keynote speech, Mr. Nijs believed that the main difference between modern international disputes and previous international disputes lies in intellectual property rights, therefore, establishing a sound intellectual property system is crucial for international disputes.


Ms Yuejiao Zhang, Former Judge on the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement mechanism also attended the forum and delivered a speech on legal protection of enterprises' cross-border trade and investment. 

Ms. Zhang now is the member of the Appellate Body of WTO Dispute Settlement Institution and a professor of the School of Law, Tsinghua University. She successively graduated from French Hannah University and American Georgetown University. She was the assistant head, head,, director, vice director of the Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Chinese Foreign Economy and Trade, the legal advisor of the Law Department of the World Bank, the assistant legal advisor, the vice director general of East Asia Bureau ,the vice director general of the Mei Gong Area Bureau, the chairwoman of the Appealing Committee and the director general of Europe Bureau of Asia Development Bank. She was the general legal advisor on China’s entry into WTO and she took part in drafting the legislations like Sino-Joint Venture Law and Special Economic Zone Regulation etc. In November 27, 2007, she was officially appointed as the member of Appellate Body (justice) by WTO Dispute Settlement Institution. This was the first time that a Chinese person was appointed to such an important position in WTO.