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Saudi Arabia selected to chair WTO Dispute Settlement Body

Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the World Trade Organization was selected to chair the entity’s Dispute Settlement Body for the year 2024-2025.

According to a release, Saqer Al-Moqbel was appointed unanimously by the WTO’s General Council during its meeting on March 22.

The DSB is responsible for addressing issues referred by WTO members regarding their commitments under the organization’s agreements and dealing with disputes that may arise among them.

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

Al-Moqbel will also assume the presidency of the General Council, the highest authority of the WTO for the year of 2025-2026.

The General Council is the WTO’s apex decision-making body in Geneva. It meets regularly to carry out WTO functions and has representatives from all member governments and the authority to act on behalf of the ministerial conference.

This decision marks the first Arab permanent representative to the WTO to hold either of these positions.

It also comes as a testament to Saudi Arabia’s leading role in the body, as it previously held multiple roles including coordinating the Arab Group, heading various committees including the Trade Policy Review Body and the Working Group for Iraq’s accession.

Last month, the Kingdom chaired the preparatory meeting of Arab trade ministers.

The gathering was moderated by Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi, who is also chairman of the board of directors of the General Authority for Foreign Trade.

The Kingdom’s presidency of the meeting resulted from its “pioneering role” in the world, the Middle East, and the Arab region in particular, as it held the position of coordinator of the Arab group at the WTO since 2011, the Saudi Press Agency reported.