WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

Dispute Settlement Body 23 October 2000

Panels set up in steel safeguard, ‘shrimp-turtle’ and corn syrup cases

The WTO Dispute Settlement body agreed on 23 October 2000 to set up a new panel to hear Korea’s complaint about US safeguard measures on welded carbon quality pipes.

It also recalled two panels to rule on whether the countries concerned are still failing to comply with WTO agreements in two old cases — the US prohibition of certain shrimp and shrimp products (the “shrimp-turtle” case) and Mexico’s anti-dumping investigation into US high-fructose corn syrup.

And delegations exchanged views on the latest EU proposals for resolving the banana dispute.

Panel set up in a new case Back to top

Case DS202: US — definitive safeguard measures on imports of circular welded carbon quality line pipe from Korea

Since this was the Rep. of Korea’s second request for a panel (details in WT/DS202/4), the DSB approved its establishment. The EU, Japan, Canada and Mexico reserved their rights in the case as third parties. The EU also said it is preparing its own request for consultations (the first step required in a dispute) on US measures on line pipe and welded steel rod. It expressed concern about what it described as the US’s growing recourse to measures to protect its steel industry.

Panels recalled in two old cases (‘recourse to DSU Article 21.5’) Back to top

Case DS58: United States — Import prohibition of certain shrimp and shrimp products (the “shrimp-turtle” case)

The DSB approved referring this case to the original panel in response to a call from Malaysia (document WT/DS58/17)which said the US’s continued restrictions on these products are a violation of WTO agreements. The US said the original panel and Appellate Body reports did not require it to get rid of its measures, simply to modify some of the details. Thailand later said the situation needs clarifying. India agreed with Malaysia’s opinion that the US is still violating WTO agreements.

The US also pointed out that Pakistan, one of the countries complaining in the original case, has obtained certification from the US that it is applying protection for endangered sea turtles that are equivalent to the protection required by US law and therefore no longer faces restrictions. Malaysia did not try a similar solution, the US said.

Canada, Japan, India, Hong Kong China, Ecuador, Thailand and Mexico reserved third party rights, and Australia said it is considering the issue.

> Summary of this case

Case DS132: Mexico — anti-dumping investigation of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from the United States

The DSB approved the US’s request (document WT/DS132/6)for the original panel to consider whether Mexico’s anti-dumping investigation is still violating WTO agreements. Mexico said it is convinced it is complying but did not block the panel’s recall. The EU and Mauritius reserved third party rights.

First time requests for panels to be set up Back to top

Because these were first-time requests and they were opposed, the panels were not set up.

Case DS120: India — Measures affecting export of certain commodities

The EU presented its request for a panel (document WT/DS120/2) in this case which deals with export restraints on all types of raw hides and skins except lamb fur skin. India said it announced on 20 October, too recent for the EU to be informed, that it was scrapping its export licensing requirement. India said it hopes the EU can withdraw the request for a panel and therefore it opposed the creation of a panel in this case. The EU thanked India and said it would convey the information to Brussels.

Case DS146: India — Measures affecting the automotive sector

The EU presented its request (document WT/DS146/4). India denied that its measures violate the Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) Agreement, but argued, supported by Pakistan and the Philippines, that if the measures do violate TRIMs, the EU should wait until the outcome of discussions on this in the General Council and Goods Council.

Case DS195: Philippines — measures affecting trade and investment in the motor vehicle sector

The complaint is brought by the US (document WT/DS195/3) and also deals with TRIMs measures, but in this case the Philippines has formally asked for the deadline for it to scrap these measures to be extended.

The Philippines, supported by Japan, Malaysia, Argentina, Pakistan, Mexico, Indonesia and Mauritius, argued that the US should wait for the outcome of discussions in the General Council and Goods Council. They cited the Philippines’ extension request under discussion in the Goods Council, the General Council chairperson’s conclusion on 17 December 1999 that members would be restrained when dealing with “implementation” issues such as TRIMs deadlines, and the General Council’s 8 May 2000 decision on how the discussion on implementation would proceed. The US argued that a request to extend TRIMs measures could not be used to justify failure to comply with TRIMs obligations.

Status reports: Surveillance of implementation of recommendations adopted by the DSB Back to top

Case DS27: European Communities — Regime for the Importation, Sale and Distribution of Bananas

The EU presented its latest decisions on making its banana regime conform with its WTO obligations (document WT/DS27/51/Add.12). This includes a “first-come, first-served” administration for tariff quotas in a transition period, leading to a flat tariff system.

“The EC envisages to open three tariff rate quotas which are open for bananas of all origins. The management of all three tariff rate quotas will be identical with a tariff preference for ACP countries. The tariff level will not be prohibitive for bananas of non-ACP origin. In case this assessment proves to be wrong, the EC will reduce the in-quota tariff for non-ACP bananas in the third tariff quota during the year, as necessary,” the document says.

Other countries called for more details. Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Dominica, Colombia, St Lucia, Mauritius, Surinam, opposed the first-come first served solution, arguing in favour of basing the solution on a Caribbean proposal that tariff quota allocations should be based on historical market shares. Latin American countries also questioned the validity of setting preferential tariff rates that could be adjusted in the third quota, while Caribbean speakers supported the preferential rates. They referred to a statement issued on 17 October 2000 in Panama, by Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela which rejected the EU proposal.

The US also opposed the plan but said a lot depends on the details. Ecuador supported the first-come, first-served (i.e. “chronological”) proposal. Jamaica wanted to preserve a system of quota allocations based on historical shares.

The EU said it would continue to listen, but this seemed the best solution. Previous attempts to agree on shares of the quotas based on historical patterns had failed, the EU said.

Case DS76: Japan — Measures Affecting Agricultural Products

Japan (document WT/DS76/11/Add.8) and the US said they were continuing consultations and looked forward to an early resolution. The EU expressed concern that varietal testing of agricultural products continues in Japan 19 months after the rulings were adopted, and called for a swift resolution. Australia also repeated its interest in this case.

Cases DS103 and DS113: Canada — Measures Affecting the Importation of Milk and the Exportation of Dairy Products

Canada reported (document WT/DS103/12/Add.3 and WT/DS113/12/Add.3) on recent consultations with New Zealand and the US. The two complainants expressed concern that the new measures that Canada has introduced still amount to export subsidies because milk is available for export only at low prices. The US added its concern that because Canada is no longer monitoring these provincial-level programmes, there are no figures available even though they should be included in Canada’s agricultural export subsidy reduction commitments.

Case DS90: India — Quantitative Restrictions on Imports of Agricultural, Textile and Industrial Products

India reported (document WT/DS90/16/Add.2) that it was still on target to complete its compliance by 1 April 2001. The US acknowledged this.

Case DS34: Turkey — Restrictions on Imports of Textile and Clothing Products

Turkey said (document WT/DS34/12/Add.2) it is continuing to hold internal consultations on implementing the dispute ruling. India asked for more information on the internal consultations and said it is willing to hold further consultations with Turkey.

Implementation of the recommendations of the DSB Back to top

Cases DS136 and 162: United States — Anti-Dumping Act of 1916

The US said it is preparing how to comply with the ruling. Japan asked for more details. The EU also said the US should examine cases currently before US courts which use this law — now found to violate WTO commitments — as a basis.

Case DS170 Canada — Term of Patent Protection

Canada said it is examining how to comply with the ruling. The US expressed concern about reports in the media which it said quoted a Canadian official as saying one of the options being considered is non-compliance.

Agenda items withdrawn Back to top

Case DS122: Thailand — anti-dumping duties on angles, shapes and sections of iron or non-alloy steel and H-beams from Poland

Case DS135: European Communities — measures affecting asbestos and asbestos — containing products (case brought by Canada)

Because Thailand and Canada said they would appeal the respective cases, the panel reports in these two cases were not adopted, and will be considered when the appeal is completed.

Other business Back to top

Case DS114: Canada: Patent protection for pharmaceutical products

Canada reported it has scrapped regulations known as the “stockpiling exception” and therefore its pharmaceutical patent law now conforms with the WTO intellectual property (TRIPS) agreement.

The next regular meeting will be on 17 November 2000.

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Article 21.5
... of the Dispute Settlement Understanding — under “Surveillance of Implementation of Recommendations and Rulings”:

“5. Where there is disagreement as to the existence or consistency with a covered agreement of measures taken to comply with the recommendations and rulings such dispute shall be decided through recourse to these dispute settlement procedures, including wherever possible resort to the original panel. The panel shall circulate its report within 90 days after the date of referral of the matter to it. When the panel considers that it cannot provide its report within this time frame, it shall inform the DSB in writing of the reasons for the delay together with an estimate of the period within which it will submit its report.” Back to text