Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WTO: Appointment of Appellate Body Members Blocked

We previously reported that the committee tasked with selecting new Appellate Body members put forward four names - those of Lilia Bautista (Philippines), Jennifer Hillman (United States), Shotaro Oshima (Japan), and Zhang Yuejiao (China) - to the Dispute Settlement Body for its approval at the DSB's November 19th meeting. At that meeting, on Monday, Taiwan blocked the appointments when it objected to the agenda item pertaining to them. When other members refused to remove the item, Taiwan indicated that it would block consensus on the agenda as a whole, and so the meeting was suspended. Taiwan's mission in Geneva stated that it refused to accede to the agenda item "because we have deep concerns on the question of impartiality and qualification of one of the recommended candidates to serve the Appellate Body." Presumably that candidate is the Chinese national, Zhang Yuejiao. As in other international organizations, China and Taiwan have had a number of spats at the WTO since they became members (respectively) on December 11, 2001 and January 1, 2002. (Taiwan was admitted as a "Separate Customs Territory," though it is no less a member because of that designation.) Presumably, China will not withdraw its candidate, so it will be interesting to see what it takes to get Taiwan to withdraw its objection.