In the negotiations:
India blocked an agreement on new global customs rules on Thursday, angering fellow members of the World Trade Organization who say Delhi's veto could be costly, economically and politically.
At a meeting in Geneva, diplomats from the 160 WTO member countries were supposed to rubber stamp a deal on "trade facilitation" that was agreed at talks in Bali last December. Some estimates say it could add $1 trillion to the world economy and create 21 million jobs.
But India said it would veto the agreement until it gets what it wants in a separate area linked to its system of subsidising and stockpiling crops.
I have trouble figuring this one out. Isn't there some agreement that could be reached on agriculture subsidies? Apparently it is harder than it looks.
And in dispute settlement:
The latest U.S. sanctions against Russia violate World Trade Organization rules and may force Moscow into a destabilising trade dispute, Russia's ambassador told the Geneva-based trade body on Thursday.
"It looks like we are being forced to seek the protection of our legitimate rights and interests through the WTO mechanisms," said Russian Ambassador Gennady Ovechko, adding that Russiawas also concerned by sanctions imposed by other WTO members.
In response to the conflict in Ukraine, the United States has for several months been leveled sanctions on Russian individuals and smaller companies. But on July 16, Washington also hit Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft ; its second largest gas producer, Novatek ; and its third largest bank, Gazprombank. All three companies are run by Putin allies who have become wealthy during his tenure.
But some diplomats fear that wide-ranging sanctions against Russia could only be explained by national security concerns. That would be a legitimate argument, but one that has never been invoked in a WTO dispute and could unravel mutual trust.
"Thus, the U.S. actions might cause the unfortunate chain of events that would ultimately undermine the credibility of the multilateral trading system," Ovechko said.
In many instances when controversial issues come up, I really want the dispute to be litigated, just to see how it all plays out. But not this one. Testing the limits of the national security exception would not be good for the system, in my view.