From the Overview: "Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the World Trade Organization (WTO) postponed its 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) planned for June 2020. The biennial meeting, which usually involves active U.S. participation, was widely anticipated as an action-forcing event for the WTO amid serious challenges facing the multilateral trading system. Some members had hoped key results for ongoing negotiations could help bolster the WTO's relevance. In addition, a dispute settlement crisis continues, with the Appellate Body ceasing to operate in December 2019, and no consensus on solutions. Broader reforms of the institution also remain under active discussion, including some U.S. proposals. While MC12 and other meetings were suspended, members are attempting to continue some WTO operations virtually. Members also face final selection of a new WTO Director-General (DG). The post has been vacant since fall 2020, after the Trump Administration objected to Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the candidate who had received the majority of WTO member support. In early February, the Biden Administration announced support for her candidacy, removing a major obstacle to her appointment."
CRS In Focus, IF11513
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/