WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

28 September 2000

Panel set up to consider US trademark dispute

WTO members, meeting as the Dispute Settlement Body, agreed on 26 September 2000 to set up a panel to adjudicate on case DS176, “United States — Section 211 Omnibus appropriations act of 1998”. The decision was semi-automatic since this was the EU’s second request for a panel.

Another case, the Rep of Korea’s safeguard measure on dairy product imports, was apparently concluded when the EU welcomed Korea’s announcement that the safeguard had been lifted.

Case DS27: EC — Regime for the importation, sale and distribution of bananas

The EU reported that its Commission would soon consider a “first come, first served” system for administering its tariff rate quotas which would apply during the transition to a tariff-only system for banana imports.

Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama expressed concern that the proposal would only prolong the dispute instead of solving it, and that the EU’s banana regime remains a violation of WTO rules.

The US questioned why the EU had not examined “first come, first served” before.

St. Lucia took the opposing view that “first come, first served” and tariff-only systems favour larger exporters with more resources to produce and transport bananas. It stressed that any solution should take into account the interests of all the parties concerned, in particular the most vulnerable.

Case DS76: Japan — Measures affecting agricultural products

Japan and the US said they were still consulting in an effort to sort out technical questions to resolve this case, which was brought by the United States. The EU and Australia, which reserved third party rights, expressed regret that Japan has still not implemented the ruling 18 months after it was adopted.

Cases DS103 and 113: Canada — Measures affecting the importation of milk and the exportation of dairy products

Canada said it was continuing to hold consultations with the two complainants, the US and New Zealand, on the staged implementation of the DSB ruling. This will be completed by 31 December 2000, Canada said.

New Zealand and the United Status expressed concern that Canada’s new export schemes would continue to be inconsistent with Canada’s WTO obligations because Canadian provinces will continue to supply milk for export at below market prices, meaning an export subsidy that exceeds Canada’s commitments.

Canada challenged this interpretation, describing its new system as a “dramatic” change involving the deregulation of the market and purely private transactions between buyers and sellers.

Further discussions on this matter are scheduled for 2 October 2000.

Case DS90: India — Quantitative restrictions on imports of agricultural, textile and industrial products

India reported that half its remaining quantitative restrictions were removed on 1 April 2000, and the rest would be removed within the “reasonable period of time” for implementing the ruling, which expires on 1 April 2001.

The US, which originally brought this case to the DSB, said it looked forward to further reports.

Case DS34: Turkey — Restrictions on imports of textile and clothing products

Turkey informed the DSB that, in an effort to find a solution, it continues to hold discussions with the EU in order to ensure that the rights of the parties to the customs union are preserved. Turkey said it will also consult India (the complaining party) about implementing the ruling.

India questioned why the rights of members of the customs union were related to Turkey’s WTO obligations.

The “reasonable period of time” for complying with the ruling expires on 7 January 2001.

Case DS98: Korea — Definitive safeguard measure on imports of certain dairy products

Korea informed the DSB that on 20 May 2000, it had lifted its safeguard measure on dairy products imports and so had completed implementing the DSB’s recommendations in this case. The EU welcomed Korea’s action.

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

Mexico informed the DSB that on 20 September 2000 it had published the final determination on anti-dumping investigation of high-fructose corn syrup from the United States and thereby complied with the Panel’s recommendations. The US said it would examine Mexico’s final determination.

Case DS176: United States — Section 211 Omnibus appropriations act of 1998

At the request of the EU, the DSB established a panel to examine US Section 211 Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998. This was the EU’s second request. Japan and Nicaragua reserved their third-party rights to participate in the Panel’s proceedings. Cuba welcomed that fact that a panel has now been set up.

This question had previously been discussed at several meetings of the TRIPS Council. It deals with the ownership of intellectual property such as trademarks when property has been appropriated without compensation. At the centre of the TRIPS Council’s discussions was a US court’s ruling in a case that Havana Club Holding SA and Havana Club International SA brought against Galleon SA, Bacardi-Martini USA Inc, Gallo Wine Distributors Inc, GWD Holdings Inc, and Premier Wine and Spirits, over the ownership of the name “Havana Club”.

Case DS189: Argentina — Definitive anti-dumping measures on carton-board imports from Germany and definitive anti-dumping measures on imports of ceramic floor tiles from Italy

The EU asked for a panel to be set up. Argentina objected, preferring to continue consultations. Because this was a first request, the panel’s establishment was deferred.

Case DS202: United States — Definitive safeguard measures on imports of circular welded carbon quality line pipe from Korea

The Rep of Korea asked for a panel to be set up. The US objected. Since this was a first request the establishment was deferred.

Case DS166: United States — Definitive safeguard measures on imports of wheat gluten from the European Communities

This item was withdrawn because the US is now appealing the panel report.

Cases DS136 and 162: United States — Anti-dumping act of 1916

The DSB adopted the Appellate Body Report on “United States — Anti-Dumping Act of 1916” and the Panel reports as upheld by the Appellate Body Report.

The EU and Japan (the complaining parties) welcomed the panel’s ruling that the Anti-Dumping Act of 1916 is inconsistent with the WTO Agreement.

Without a consensus to reject the reports, the DSB adopted them.