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Former USTR Chief of Staff Says MPIA Doesn't Make Sense for US Purposes

While the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement (MPIA), an alternative to the World Trade Organization's Appellate Body, may work for the nations that want an appellate level of review of WTO panel decisions, it doesn't necessarily make sense for U.S. purposes, said Jamieson Greer, former chief of staff for the U.S. trade representative and partner at King & Spalding. Speaking at a May 8 Federalist Society event, Greer said that if the U.S. wanted another level of review at the WTO, the government would simply just start staffing up the AB again rather than pursue a solution under the MPIA.

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The MPIA recently yielded its first results in a dispute on Colombia's antidumping duties on frozen fries from various EU nations, teeing up questions on whether it can serve as a viable alternative to the AB (see 2212230025). Recently, Japan and China agreed to enter into arbitration under the MPIA in a bid to settle a case on China's antidumping duties covering stainless steel goods from Japan (see 2304140042).

David Ross, partner at WilmerHale, said the arbitration under the MPIA will work for all the countries that consent to use the process. "At the end of the day, it's really a mediating agreement between the countries," which comes up with a resolution that the countries can choose to adhere to or not to resolve disputes, but "where they lose track of members is when they start creating obligations," Ross said.

The panelists addressed a WTO panel's recent ruling that found U.S. Section 232 national and security duties violated global trade rules (see 2212090060). That panel said the tariffs were not "taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations" and so didn't qualify as addressing a threat to national security.

Greer said these rulings were further evidence of the WTO damaging its own marketability as a place for dispute settlement. He said the idea that national security should be decided by each individual country is "fundamental" to the U.S. Greer also said this prospect comes with risk, because more countries may justify trade actions by pointing to their own national security concerns.

Greer added the rulings to a list of actions taken by the WTO that he said erode consensus. The trade body has weakened intellectual property rules when it comes to IP protections during health emergencies, he said, and has told countries they can't decide what their own national security is. "None of that is a recipe for consensus," Greer said, adding that the trade body is actually doing the opposite by ruling on things that are at the core of individual countries' national interest.