US measure affecting government procurement
The EC and Japan
reiterated their respective requests for a panel, first made at the previous DSB meeting
(22 September), to examine their complaints against a Massachusetts law disallowing the
granting of government procurement contracts to companies doing business in or with
Myanmar. They claimed this law violated provisions of the Agreement on Government
States expressed regret over the panel requests in view of what it said was the common
interest of the three parties to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar. It cited a
recent resolution by the European Parliament for the imposition of economic sanctions on
Myanmar, and the recent call by the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and
General Workers Unions on the European Commission to sever trading links with that
country. The United States said that it would continue to pursue, with the help of
Massachusetts, a mutually acceptable solution with the EC and Japan.
established a single panel to examine the complaints by the EC and Japan.
Mexico's anti-dumping investigation of HFCS from the US
States complained that Mexico's levying of anti-dumping duties last January on
high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from the United States and the investigation that preceded
this action did not meet standards set out in the Anti-Dumping Agreement. It claimed that
Mexico's Secretariat of Commerce and Industrial Development, which had conducted the
investigation, did not provide adequate information to US exporters thereby failing to
give them the full opportunity to defend their interests. The United States said that
consultations with Mexico on this matter had not resolved the dispute, hence it was
seeking the establishment of a panel to examine its complaint.
maintained that its anti-dumping investigation conformed with the Anti-Dumping Agreement.
It added that it was still studying the US complaint, and thus was not in a position to
agree to a panel at that meeting.
HFCS is used
primarily as a sweetener, especially in the softdrinks industry.
EC measures affecting asbestos products
that last May, it had requested consultations with the EC concerning certain measures
applied by France prohibiting importation and sale of asbestos and products containing
asbestos, and concerning the general asbestos regulations in France. It said these
measures severely damaged Canadian trade interests. Canada said that in consultations that
took place in July 1998 in Geneva it had tried to convince the EC that the French ban was
unjustifiable. It said that there was agreement for the two parties to meet again but that
it had not been possible to agree on a mutually acceptable date. As the consultations had
failed to produce a solution, Canada was now seeking the establishment of a panel to
examine its complaint.
In its formal
complaint, Canada claimed that the French measures contravened provisions of the
Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and on Technical Barriers to Trade, and
the GATT 1994.
The EC said
that at the end of 1996, France banned the use and importation of asbestos and asbestos
products, and that subsequently, certain other EC member states had followed suit. It said
the reason is that asbestos fibres had been found to be carcinogenic, and that some 2,000
persons in France died each year due to cancer caused by asbestos. The EC said that
substitute materials had been developed in place of asbestos, which are safer to human
health. It stressed that the French measures were not discriminatory, and were fully
justified for public health reasons. The EC said that in the July consultations, it had
tried to convince Canada that the measures were justified, and that just as Canada broke
off consultations, it was in the process of submitting substantial scientific data in
favour of the asbestos ban. The EC said it could not agree to Canada's panel request at
Slovak Republic's import duty on wheat from Hungary
complained that the Slovak Republic had imposed additional duties on Hungarian wheat in
violation of the most-favoured-nation principle and of its pledged bound rates in its GATT
tariff schedule. It said that the action amounted to a de facto prohibition on Hungarian
wheat. Hungary said that it had received recently a communication from the Slovak Republic
regarding the withdrawal of the measure, but would seek an official confirmation before
withdrawing its panel request.
Republic said that an upsurge of wheat imports from Hungary had led it to take a safeguard
action on this product, pursuant to the Central European Free Trade Agreement. On 13
October, it had decided to withdraw this measure. However, it maintained that the
situation with respect to wheat imports from Hungary still existed, hence it was
considering possible WTO remedies.
expressed concern that the Slovak Republic would be invoking the WTO Safeguards Agreement
to legitimize the measure in question. It said that based on trade statistics,
the measure could not be justified under that Agreement. Hungary requested the
establishment of a panel to examine its complaint, and called for an accelerated process
in view of the seasonal character of the product.
Republic said it was not in a position to accept Hungary's panel request.
Status of implementation
presented its sixth report on its implementation of the DSB recommendations on its dispute
with the United States on certain measures concerning periodicals. It said that it was in
the process of preparing all legislative and administrative measures to comply with the
recommendations by 30 October. Canada added that foreign periodicals had been informed
about what it said were substantially lower postal rates they would enjoy as from that
date. With respect to new legislative proposals, it emphasized that these measures
concerned advertising services, and that Canada had not accepted any obligation in this
area under the General Agreement on Trade in Services.
States criticized a bill introduced in the Canadian parliament on 8 October as
protectionist and discriminatory. It said that the bill would forbid foreign magazines
from accepting advertisements targeted at Canadian consumers, which it said would leave
the discrimination found by the panel and the Appellate Body in place. The United States
urged Canada to withdraw this bill, and warned of swift US action should it be enacted
presented its third status report on the implementation of the DSB recommendations on the
dispute concerning its regime for the importation, sale and distribution of bananas. It
said that the Council of the European Union, after consulting the European Parliament,
adopted in July a new regulation that would partially implement the recommendations, to be
followed by other regulations that would concluded the implementation process. The EC said
that it had undertaken negotiations with banana exporting countries to seek agreement on
the allocation of shares in the EC banana tariff rate quotas. It added that to its regret,
these negotiations had not resulted in an agreement.
welcomed the US Administration's efforts that had led to the withdrawal of a legislative
proposal in the US Congress calling for retaliation in the banana case. However, it
expressed serious concern about the US Administration's letter to the US Congress that
promised retaliation should the EC implementing measures proved to be WTO-inconsistent and
not acceptable to the United States. The EC invited the United States to refrain from
taking any unilateral action and recalled that according to the DSU suspension of
concessions should be authorized by the DSB.
speaking on behalf of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and the United States, said that
it considered the new EC measures on the distribution of tariff quota shares and import
licenses that would be implemented at the beginning of next year to be inconsistent with
the GATT and the GATS. It called on the EC to agree to urgent talks that would establish a
banana regime consistent with the WTO.
States criticized the EC for taking what it said was a unilateral approach to compliance
with DSB recommendations. It continued to hope that talks with the EC would result in a
WTO-consistent solution, and viewed a US withdrawal of concessions from the EC in this
case as a last resort.
Guatemala, Honduras and Panama underlined the importance of banana exports in their
expressed hope that the new EC banana regime would satisfy the needs of the developing
country members of the LomÚ Convention. Cuba said that the small economies in the
Caribbean deserved better treatment considering the difficulties they faced.
India said it
intended to implement the DSB recommendations concerning its patent protection for
pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical products, and that it would be consulting with
the EC regarding the reasonable period of time for completing its obligations.
conclusion of the regular agenda, the European Communities announced that it had agreed
with Brazil that the EC would complete its implementation of the DSB recommendations
regarding the poultry dispute by 31 March 1999. Brazil confirmed this agreement.
that the Czech Republic, on 9 October, introduced measures on Hungarian wheat identical to
those imposed by the Slovak Republic. It said that consultations on these measures began
the previous day, and expressed hope that a solution would be found soon.
Republic said it had exercised a right provided for in a bilateral agreement with Hungary,
adding that it saw no linkage between this action and the Slovak measure. It said that
there seemed to be good prospects for a resolution of the matter in the ongoing