Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gave the following statement to Reuters news agency yesterday (11 December 2019) on the blocking of the WTO’s arbitration function:
At the moment there are a large number of trade conflicts throughout the world. We are witnessing a revival of protectionism. The global economy is extremely unsettled. In a situation like this, the international community is more dependent than ever on a functioning World Trade Organization that is in a position to resolve trade disputes. This core instrument - the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism - is now out of action. We view the blocking of the WTO’s arbitration function, for which the United States is responsible, with great concern. This constitutes a serious blow to the rules‑based multilateral trade system.
We, too, recognise that the WTO needs to be reformed to make it fit for the current challenges facing global trade. We therefore support the proposals of the EU Commission on comprehensive reform of the WTO.