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First Thai named chair of WTO’s dispute settlement body

Written by Thailand News

Thai permanent representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Ms Sunanta Kangvalkulkij has become the first Thai ever to be voted the new chair of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of WTO.

She was unanimously voted by 164 member countries of WTO at the General Council meeting of WTO on March 7.

The DSB is made up of all member governments, usually represented by ambassadors or equivalent. Ms Sunanta will succeed Junichi Ihara, Japan’s representative in Geneva, who has been selected chairman of the WTO General Council.

According to WTO, the DSB has authority to establish dispute settlement panels, refer matters to arbitration, adopt panel, Appellate Body and arbitration reports, maintain surveillance over the implementation of recommendations and rulings contained in such reports, and authorize suspension of concessions in the event of non-compliance with those recommendations and rulings.

The immediate challenge of the WTO for the time being is the appointment of replacements to fill up the three vacancies in the 7-member Appellate Body. The selection process to pick the three replacements has bogged down due to the opposition of the US under Trump administration.

Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, Ministry of Commerce’s permanent-secretary, said the selection of Ms Sunanata reflected that international community’s trust in Thailand as dispute settlement is one of the most important’s missions of the WTO at the moment.

She said it was the first time in the WTO history that a Thai had been selected as the DBS chair.

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