31 Oct 2023

Dispute Settlement in times of crises: Can the USA and Mexico prevent another “Tortilla War”?

Christian Häberli, WTI Research Fellow, is appointed chair of the USMCA panel in Mexico – GE Corn.

When the WTO and its dispute settlement system, the so-called “Jewel of the Crown”, is not functioning, governments with Regional Trade Agreements have an alternative to solve their trade disputes. They can follow the procedures laid down in those agreements and, like in the WTO, “request consultations”. If these consultations fail, they can establish a Panel whose Final Report is a decision binding on both parties, including the possibility of retaliation (“suspension of concessions”, with an amount subject to agreement by the Panel).

The WTI community has many members with extended adjudicator experience. Several dispute settlement experts continue their role in multilateral and bilateral cases, trying to avoid new trade wars. The latest nomination was awarded to Christian Häberli, WTI Fellow, in the fifth bilateral dispute under the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA, the previous NAFTA Agreement). This is a case pertaining to certain Mexican measures concerning genetically engineered (“GE”) corn and other GE products.

Our long-time colleague Christian Häberli - who in 2020 had already acted as the Chairperson in the first case under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement - hopes  to conclude these proceedings in 2024, together with Hugo Perezcano Díaz from Mexico, and Jean E. Kalicki from the USA.