Time for global leadership, Japan-style

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

Japan has taken up the G20 presidency at a key time in global economic affairs and has the opportunity to shepherd the global economy through a period of greater uncertainty than there has been in decades. But the task is tough. Not only are the issues on which progress must be made substantial, but also Japan’s G20 presidency will effectively be one of the shortest ever, with leaders meeting in the middle of 2019.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech at a business leaders’ New Year party at a hotel in Tokyo, Japan, 7 January 2019 (Photo: AFLO via Reuters/Yoshio Tsunoda).

The World Trade Organization (WTO), at the core of the multilateral trading system, is in crisis. With only three out of its seven possible appellate body judges, the WTO’s dispute settlement body’s appellate court is down to the minimum number of judges needed to function. If one of the three judges has to recuse himself or herself from a case or becomes unable to serve, the enforcement mechanism of the multilateral trading system ceases to function. This is the system that holds countries accountable to the world trade rules and, without it, a core function of the WTO will collapse.

It’s the United States that is vetoing the appointment of new judges because …continue reading