From the Overview: "Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the World Trade Organization (WTO) postponed its 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) until November 2021. 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 global 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 have attempted to continue some WTO operations virtually. The new WTO Director-General (DG) is also getting settled into her new role. The post had 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. The Biden Administration supported her candidacy, removing a major obstacle to her official appointment on February 15, 2021. [...] Some Members of Congress have expressed support for ongoing WTO reform efforts, sought clarification on the positions of the Administration, and proposed trade-related legislation in response to COVID-19."
CRS In Focus, IF11513
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/