DP14834 WTO Dispute Settlement and the Appellate Body: Insider perceptions and Members' revealed preferences

Author(s): Matteo Fiorini, Bernard Hoekman, Petros C Mavroidis, Maarja Saluste, Robert Wolfe
Publication Date: May 2020
Keyword(s): Appellate Body, Conflict resolution, Dispute Settlement, WTO
JEL(s): F13
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14834

The WTO dispute settlement system is in crisis, following the decision of the United States to block new appointments to the Appellate Body (AB). The AB went into hibernation in December 2019, not having enough sitting members to be able to operate. What do WTO members think of the performance of WTO dispute settlement? How much do WTO members care about the existence and operation of an appeals mechanism? In this paper, we report on the results of a survey of WTO Members' perceptions of the AB and the role it plays (should play). We complement this with data on Members' revealed preferences in their use of the dispute settlement system, their intervention in WTO debates on the AB crisis and their responses to demise of the AB. The data reveal strong support for the basic design of the dispute settlement system but also that the United States is not alone in perceiving that the AB went beyond its mandate. There are substantive questions that need to be addressed if the Appellate Body impasse is to be resolved.