WTO: 2013 NEWS ITEMS

DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

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NOTE:
This summary has been prepared by the WTO Secretariat’s Information and External Relations Division to help public understanding about developments in WTO disputes. It is not a legal interpretation of the issues, and it is not intended as a complete account of the issues. These can be found in the reports themselves and in the minutes of the Dispute Settlement Body’s meetings.

DS438; DS444; DS445: Argentina — Measures Affecting the Importation of Goods

The EU, US and Japan reiterated their concerns expressed at the December 2012 DSB meeting regarding Argentina’s measures for the importation of goods which appeared to be inconsistent with the GATT 1994 and the Import Licensing Agreement.  In that regard, the EU, US and Japan requested the DSB, for the second time, to establish a panel to examine this matter. 

Argentina said that it had repealed the automatic import licences as well as all the non-automatic import licences as of 25 January 2013.  In that regard, Argentina was of the view that the requests for the establishment of a panel were unfounded but understood that, pursuant to Article 6.1 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU), a panel would be established. However, Argentina noted that, in view of the repeal, the panel should not rule on measures that were not in force at the time of panel composition. 

Japan, the US and the EU said that the information provided by Argentina on the repeal of measures should not affect the panel’s terms of reference and did not share Argentina’s assertion that the matter had been resolved.  Further to their second requests for the establishment of a panel, the DSB established a single panel pursuant to Article 9.1 of the DSU, with standard terms of reference to examine the complaint by the EU contained in document WT/DS438/11, the complaint by the US contained in document WT/DS444/10 and the complaint by Japan contained in document WT/DS445/10

Australia, Canada, China, Ecuador, EU, Guatemala, India, Japan, Korea, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Turkey and the US reserved their third-party rights to participate in the panel’s proceedings.

 

DS447: US — Measures Affecting the Importation of Animals, Meat and other Animal Products from Argentina

Argentina reiterated its concern, as expressed at the December 2012 DSB meeting, regarding certain US measures that affected Argentine imports which it considered to be inconsistent with, inter alia, the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994.  Thus, Argentina requested, for the second time, the DSB to establish a panel to examine this dispute. 

The US said that it was disappointed that Argentina had chosen to request panel establishment for the second time but was ready to defend its measures which were fully compliant with its WTO obligations.  The DSB established a panel, in accordance with Article 6 of the DSU, with standard terms of reference, to examine this dispute. 

Australia, China, EU, India and Korea reserved their third-party rights to participate in the panel’s proceedings. 

 

DS429: US — Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Shrimp from Viet Nam

Further to the US objection, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel after the first request by Viet Nam to examine this dispute.

 

DS285: US — Measures Affecting the Cross Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services

Antigua and Barbuda referred to its statement made at the December 2012 DSB meeting expressing its concern about the US failure to comply with the DSB’s rulings in this dispute and its lack of engagement with Antigua and Barbuda to find a solution.  Thus, Antigua and Barbuda said that it had no alternative but to request the DSB to authorise the suspension of concessions and other obligations to the United States in respect of intellectual property rights. 

The US said that it was disappointed with Antigua and Barbuda’s decision to pursue DSB authorisation to suspend concessions or other obligations.  In its view, it was Antigua and Barbuda’s actions in refusing to engage in the Article XXI process, and not the actions of the US that were preventing the final resolution of this matter.  Dominica (speaking on behalf of OECS states) called for a quick resolution of this dispute.  Pursuant to the request by Antigua and Barbuda under Article 22.7 of the DSU (WT/DS285/25), the DSB agreed to grant authorisation to suspend the application to the US of concessions or other obligations consistent with the Arbitrator’s decision contained in document WT/DS285/ARB.

 

Statement by Brazil regarding requests for preliminary rulings

Brazil said that, given the growing number of requests for preliminary rulings, it was concerned about the lack of uniformity with which such requests have been dealt with recently. In particular, Brazil was concerned that an indiscriminate use of such procedures, without proper rules, may cause important systemic consequences that impact the dispute settlement proceedings as a whole. Furthermore, provisions on jurisdictional and procedural matters usually dealt with in the preliminary phase nevertheless constitute relevant provisions of the DSU. In Brazil’s view, preliminary rulings have the same effects as any other decision made by the panel and should abide by the same rules and principles set forth in the DSU.

Canada said that it too had concerns about the recent treatment of preliminary rulings. It stressed the importance of ensuring that they are conducted in a transparent manner and that third-party rights are taken into account.  The EU, Australia and China agreed that third parties should have access to information submitted by the parties to the dispute and be given an opportunity to comment. 

The US said that it was ready to discuss this matter further with interested delegations and agreed that third parties should receive any request for a preliminary ruling, as well as related submissions, if they are made prior to the first meeting of the panel with the parties.  However, the US noted that Article 10.2 of the DSU does not address the specific question of whether third parties should be given the opportunity to comment.  China reserved its position with regard to whether rules governing preliminary rulings needed to be clarified or improved.

Several members (US, EU, Thailand, Philippines and China) submitted status reports on different disputes.

The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled for 27 February 2013.

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