Georgetown's IIEL Proposes Strategy on WTO Appellate Body Appointments

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World Trade Organization (WTO) Members have been unable to agree on the appointment of new members to the seven-person Appellate Body (AB) in a timely fashion, given the recent expiration of two members' terms and another member's resignation.  There has been no consensus to even begin a process to fill these


February 26, 2018


February 26, 2018


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World Trade Organization (WTO) Members have been unable to agree on the appointment of new members to the seven-person Appellate Body (AB) in a timely fashion, given the recent expiration of two members’ terms and another member’s resignation.  There has been no consensus to even begin a process to fill these posts, creating further problems for the selection and appointment of incoming Appellate Body Members (ABMs).  As a result, the WTO faces mirror issues over the transition from “outgoing” to “incoming” ABMs, threatening its very functioning and effectiveness.

This Issue Brief, a product of discussions between IIEL faculty, students and stakeholders, provides a solution to the problem without taking sides in the debate over whether the Appellate Body’s current practice of appointing hold-overs is or is not permissible under the current rules. It proposes a single amendment to the DSU that represents a compromise—limiting the use of hold-overs while creating incentives for the timely replacement of ABMs whose terms of office are coming to an end. 


Safeguarding Policy Space in Investment Agreements

Critics of bilateral investment treaties and investment chapters in trade agreements have increasingly argued that these accords can undermine a state’s sovereign “right to regulate” and limit the “policy space” available to governments, undermining the public interest.  In this December 2017 Issue Brief, Simon Lester and Bryan Mercurio argue that governments should veer from simple carve outs and adopt broader “general exceptions” strategies in order to better protect legitimate public welfare measures.

FinTech Innovation: Building a 21st Century Regulator

In May 2017, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman J. Christopher (Chris) Giancarlo announced the launch of LabCFTC as part of an effort to modernize the agency and serve as a focal point for grappling with unprecedented waves of financial technology innovation impacting markets.  To lead the work, he appointed Daniel Gorfine the initiative’s Director and the agency’s Chief Innovation Officer.

In this Issue Brief, Director Gorfine outlines the CFTC’s Fintech Agenda, and shares a number of current and forthcoming projects that collectively provide a blueprint for the agency’s digital upgrade.  Mr. Gorfine’s remarks are accompanied by a prologue by IIEL Faculty Director Chris Brummer.

STRESSED IN AN AGE OF POPULISM: Recommended Changes in U.S. Trade Law and Policy

In this Issue Brief, delivered by Ambassador Alan Wolff as the 2017 Greenwald Lecture during Georgetown Law’s 2017 Annual International Trade Update, Alan Wolff examines the legal system governing trade—both the rules in international agreements and those by statute—and argues that the United States and the world should be prepared for current institutions, international arrangements and domestic processes, like large financial institutions under Dodd-Frank, to be “stress-tested” by unanticipated forces and developments.  But in contrast to financial regulatory stress tests based on stylized economic models, the tests facing trade may well be operationalized through the real world adoption of trade measures that depart significantly from longstanding norms and expectations.

Why the Ryan-Brady Tax Proposal Will Be Found to be Inconsistent with WTO Law, by former WTO Appellate Body member Jennifer Hillman.  In this Issue Brief, Professor Hillman argues that, as currently described, the plan’s taxes on imports are a clear violation of WTO rules and the rebates or exclusion from taxes for exports could pose challenges as well.  As a result, the plan risks significant litigation, retaliation from our trading partners, possible additional duties on U.S. exports, and carries the potential to start a trade war.  As a result, reforms to the corporate tax system should be scrutinized and undertaken carefully.

Renminbi Internationalization and Systemic Risk, in which IIEL Faculty Director and Williams Research Professor Chris Brummer argues that China’s renminbi strategy introduces novel systemic risks to the global financial system, including a potentially inadequate provision of renminbi liquidity, a regulatory race to the bottom between offshore RMB-hubs, and significant transmission belts of financial risk to even non-renminbi markets.  To mitigate these risks, he argues for a policy recipe of stronger Mainland macroprudential oversight, transparent countercyclical capital account reforms and credible commitments on the part of the government to refrain from competitive currency devaluations.

IIEL’s inaugural Issue Brief on Shadow Banking was penned by Amias Gerety, then-Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, U.S. Department of the Treasury.

If you are interested in having IIEL publish your analysis of international trade, monetary affairs, financial regulation, tax or any major area impacting the laws governing the global economy for our thousands of high-level readers, please send your submission of approximately 5,000 words to  We are proudly nonpartisan and seek only outstanding ideas worthy of sharing with our intellectual and leadership community.

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The Institute of International Economic Law is the focal point for the study of international economic law at Georgetown University.

It is also one of the leading centers for international economic law and policy in the world.

Originally focused on trade, the Institute now boasts leading capabilities and international renown in a range of areas including investment and financial regulation, tax, business and monetary law. The Institute actively approaches these fields as interrelated and at times overlapping policy spheres that impact how law is devised, practiced and enforced.


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