• Media release
30 March 2020

Australia and 15 other members of the World Trade Organization have agreed to establish an interim arrangement to bring appeals and solve trade disputes.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said the interim arrangement would allow appeals on trade disputes to be heard at a time when the formal appeals process of the WTO dispute settlement system was unable to function.

“As an outward looking nation where one in five jobs depends upon trade, Australia benefits from the certainty that global trade rules give our businesses when they go out into the world,” Minister Birmingham said.

“These are tough times for Australian exporters, with the extensive economic disruption caused by COVID-19, and it is vital that now and when the COVID-19 crisis passes, they are able to pursue export opportunities with a robust rules-based trading system in place.

“Our participation in this arrangement will allow Australia to continue to prosecute our interests in some of our existing disputes, as well as any future disputes, while the formal appeal function is not fully operational. We hope that other nations will join the initial 15 participants in this interim arrangement.

“Australia is also firmly committed to working with all WTO Members to advance reform and to restore the appeal function of the WTO dispute settlement system as quickly as possible.”

WTO members part of the interim arrangement are Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; the European Union; Guatemala; Hong Kong, Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; Singapore; Switzerland; and Uruguay.