Report on the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization



Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer| Office of the United States Trade Representative

For more than 20 years, the United States has expressed concerns that the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization – and in particular its Appellate Body – has not functioned according to the rules agreed by the United States and other WTO Members. This Report details those concerns and assesses the repeated failure of the Appellate Body to apply the rules of the WTO agreements in a manner that adheres to the text of those agreements.

Specifically, the Appellate Body has added to U.S. obligations and diminished U.S. rights by failing to comply with WTO rules, addressing issues it has no authority to address, taking actions it has no authority to take, and interpreting WTO agreements in ways not envisioned by the WTO Members who entered into those agreements. This persistent overreaching is plainly contrary to the Appellate Body’s limited mandate, as set out in WTO rules.

On a more fundamental level, this overreaching also violates the basic principles of the United States Government. There is no legitimacy under our democratic, constitutional system for the nation to submit to a rule imposed by three individuals sitting in Geneva, with neither agreement by the United States nor approval by the United States Congress. The Appellate Body has consistently acted to increase its own authority while decreasing the authority of the United States and other WTO Members, which, unlike the individuals on the Appellate Body, are accountable to the citizens in their countries – citizens whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the WTO’s decisions.

The Report highlights several examples of how the Appellate Body has altered Members’ rights and obligations through erroneous interpretations of WTO agreements. Several of these interpretations have directly harmed the ability of the United States to counteract economic distortions caused by non-market practices of countries like China that hurt our citizens, workers, and businesses.


To view the original report, click here.