The United States has been raising concerns for many years on a range of issues with the operation of the dispute settlement system, particularly actions by the Appellate Body. Time has run out to prevent some hiatus in the functioning of the Appellate Body after December 10 when the current membership of the Appellate Body goes from three to one with vacancies going from four to six of the seven member body. There is a requirement within the Dispute Settlement Understanding to have three Appellate Body members handle any appeal from a panel report. The likely process for finding replacements for Appellate Body vacancies, once authorized, will take a number of months. With the continued impasse within the Dispute Settlement Body (“DSB”) as recently as the last DSB meeting on October 28, WTO members now certainly face a gap for appeals from panel decisions issued around or after December 10. A few WTO members have formalized agreements among themselves for procedures to handle resolution of disputes for such time as the Appellate Body lacks adequate membership to conduct appeals relying on the authority for members to resolve disputes through arbitration. The European Union and Norway have signed an agreement similar to the one that the EU and Canada had submitted previously.
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