The implications of the next procedural steps are little known. This could still take some time
UPDATE Agreement was reached at the rescheduled June 12–17 Ministerial Conference Consensus was achieved by leaving out disciplines on subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing (Article 5). Members agree to complete negotiations on these in four years or else the new agreement will lapse (Article 12).
But even with the deal that was struck, there are more procedures to go through before it becomes WTO law and before it applies to WTO members.
That’s right. Even though agreement was reached on June 17, 2022, for now (July 2022) it is still not effective. It is not part of WTO law.
This article is about what is needed to turn the agreement into legal rules. How long that will take is up in the air, but it could be a year or two at least. It might even take longer.
That said, there’s nothing to stop members implementing unilaterally what they agree. On an issue like this they should do so anyway. But they would not be able to use, for example, WTO dispute settlement against other countries because there would be no legal rules yet.
The procedures are worth bearing in mind. They are not well-known, even among people who follow trade.
This was demonstrated when I ran a little poll on Twitter on this subject. Out of 150 people who responded, 86% were wrong.
Only three more ratifications are needed for the WTO’s first ever amendment to take effect. Or is it … FOUR?
Note: The “conundrum” was dodged on January 23, 2017 when five countries were officially announced to have ratified the amendment. The total leapt over the targeted 110 to 112. Now that the target has been reached, this blog post will no longer be updated. But the conundrum remains unresolved. More up-to-date information is availablehere.
By Peter Ungphakorn FIRST PUBLISHED BY IP-WATCH, APRIL 14, 2016
REVISED AND POSTED HERE JUNE 12, 2016 | UPDATED NOVEMBER 30, 2016