Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission in Brussels on Oct. 28, 2019.

YVES HERMAN/Reuters

The European Union could impose tariffs on the United States and other rivals if they refuse to settle trade disputes after the crippling of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The European Commission, which co-ordinates trade policy for the 28-member bloc, proposed on Thursday changes to an existing law that it has already used to curb imports of steel after U.S. tariffs effectively closed the U.S. market in 2018.

The proposals are the European Union’s latest response to a crisis at the WTO, which the bloc has relied upon for 25 years to intervene in trade conflicts.

Story continues below advertisement

The WTO’s Appellate Body, which has acted as a supreme court for international disputes, became paralyzed this week, after the Trump administration’s blocking of new appointments for the past two years meant its membership fell below the quorum necessary to make new rulings when two members’ terms expired.

With no functioning Appellate Body, any party to a dispute unhappy with the finding of a three-person WTO panel would now appeal into a void, leaving the case in limbo.

The European Commission has forged agreements with Canada and Norway to allow appeals to go before former Appellate Body members, which is allowed under WTO rules, and wants to sign up other countries with which it has more active disputes.

Thursday’s proposal goes further. If the EU won a panel ruling but its trading counterpart refused to allow an effective appeal, the European Union would calculate damages in the form of quotas and tariffs. Normally this is done by a WTO panel.

The EU is awaiting panel rulings in cases against Russia, China and the United States, including over the U.S. metals tariffs, and has lodged complaints this year against Colombia, India, Indonesia and Turkey.

The EU proposal is designed to mirror the current WTO system, which allows retaliation, such as the U.S. tariffs imposed over subsidies given to European plane maker Airbus and which the EU hopes to be awarded over a parallel case against Boeing.

The system could also be used in complaints against countries with which the European Union has free trade agreements – such as disputes with Ukraine over wood exports and with South Africa over poultry. These would normally be settled by arbitrators.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies