Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS
Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS

Geneva — Member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) should unite against US President Donald Trump’s bullying, former WTO chief judge James Bacchus said on Wednesday.

Bacchus said that Trump was stampeding countries into accepting constraints on their own exports, even though they knew it was illegal to do so, and intimidating judges at the WTO who had ruled against the US.

"It is imperative that the other members of the WTO stand up against the bully, unite and do it. No one wants to do it individually," Bacchus, a former US congressman, told a large audience at the WTO.

Trump has blocked the appointments of judges at the WTO, which now has four vacant seats on its seven-seat appeal body, which is effectively the supreme court of world trade. This has left the bare minimum of three judges to rule on international disputes.

"What the US really wants is to be judge and jury in all its disputes in the WTO involving the US," said Bacchus.

"They want judges to rule in favour of the US under threat of not being reappointed if they do not," he said.

Losing one more judge would undermine the entire world trading system..

"It is shameful, it is inexcusable, it is not worthy of the [US]... It is not worthy of the greatest dispute-settlement system in the history of the world."

Bacchus said that the other 163 WTO members could exploit a rarely used WTO rule to isolate Washington, using arbitration instead of standard litigation.