According to Bloomberg on April 5, 2019, the WTO ruled on a Russia and Ukraine dispute that set the precedent for two things: (1) rights of nations to impose trade restrictions on national-security grounds and (2) WTO’s authority to determine whether a national security threat justifies trade restrictions. However, the US hold the position the WTO does not have the power to rule on these two issues.
Ironically, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo agrees the WTO should not mediate regional security conflicts, but said the cases were brought to the WTO and that the world body did not have an option.
Personally, I don’t believe China will bring a case to the WTO for the steel and aluminium duties as the US and China are currently reaching a deal. Also, if China and the US bring a case to the WTO, they would further justify and open the door for the WTO’s authority and national-security determination decision making power over any member to the world body.
I believe this WTO decision is a single occurrence likely to not happen again. The WTO is a trade organization and is not capable of understanding, addressing and enforcing regional security issues such as those between Russia and Ukraine.
Will be interesting to see what happens – will post more as updates become available.