Zurich: Donald Trump’s administration will block the reappointment of a World Trade Organization appellate member, thus reducing the number of sitting judges to three, the minimum needed for the appeals body to function.

The US has been blocking appointments to the institution in protest of what it sees as abuses of its trade-dispute settlement authority. The expected rejection of the reappointment of Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing of Mauritius comes as his first four-year term expires at the end of next month.

“The United States has determined that it is not prepared to support the reappointment of Mr. Servansing to the appellate body," Dennis Shea, the Deputy US Trade Representative and permanent US Representative to the WTO, said in a statement to the Geneva-based organization. “This position is no reflection on any one individual but reflects our principled concerns."

Since August 2017, the US has blocked all new nominees to the WTO appellate body, which has the final say in upholding, modifying or reversing WTO rulings that often affect some of the world’s biggest companies and billions of dollars in commerce. The seven-member body is operating with four active members, which is just one more than the three-member minimum required to sign off on WTO appellate rulings.