WTO: 2008 NEWS ITEMS

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NOTE:
This summary has been prepared by the WTO Secretariat’s Information and Media 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.

DS322: US — Measures relating to zeroing and sunset reviews

The DSB established a review panel under Article 21.5 of the DSU at the request of Japan (WT/DS322/27) to determine whether the US had fully complied with the rulings in this case. Japan pointed out that this request was submitted under the ad hoc procedural agreement between the US and Japan (WT/DS322/26) on how to proceed under DSU Articles 21 and 22.

The US regretted that Japan had requested a compliance panel and said that in line with their procedural agreement, the panel would be established at the present meeting. The US said that some of the measures identified in Japan's panel request (WT/DS322/27) appeared not to be measures taken to comply with the DSB's rulings in this case as they pre-dated Japan's original request for consultations and the DSB's adoption of the rulings in this case. The US maintained that these measures could not properly be within the scope of an Article 21.5 proceeding.

China; the EC; Hong Kong, China; Norway and Chinese Taipei reserved their 3rd-party rights.

DS291, DS292 & DS293: EC — Measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products

Under the item dealing with surveillance of implementation of DSB rulings, the EC reported that there continued to be good-faith cooperation in this case between the EC and the three complainants — Argentina, Canada and the US. Reporting progress in the process of pending applications, the EC said that in addition to the seven new GM products authorized in 2007, one GM product (GA 21) was authorized on 28 March 2008. Four other products were due to be approved soon, said the EC, and two more draft authorization decisions were due to be discussed in the EC Council in the near future.

The US welcomed the status report by the EC and noted that despite the expiry of the reasonable period of time for implementation on 11 January 2008, the EC had still not brought its measures into conformity with its WTO obligations. The US recalled that it had requested consultations in this case in May 2003 and said that the commercial impact of this dispute was significant and growing. The US acknowledged that the EC had recently given approval to GA 21, but said that this highlighted the complexity of the EC's approval process and the need for urgent reform. The US noted that despite the positive views of EC's own scientific bodies regarding the safety of GA 21, it took nearly 10 years from the date of the application for approval to be given. The US hoped that the EC would take the necessary steps to resolve this dispute and obviate the need for the US to pursue further proceedings under the DSU.

Argentina welcomed the approval of GA 21 and said that it was looking forward to working with the EC and other co-complainants to resolve the outstanding issues.

Canada said that it was closely monitoring progress. Canada was disappointed by the recent Romanian ban on the cultivation of the biotech product MON810 and expected the EC to take the necessary steps to address such safeguard measures imposed by its member states. It was Canada's further expectation that a mutually satisfactory solution to this dispute would be found before the expiry of the reasonable period of time in June 2008.

The EC responded by defending its regulatory regime and said that Romania had neither notified nor implemented the alleged safeguard measure.

DS217: US — Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000: implementation of the recommendations adopted by the DSB

The EC and Japan had inscribed this item on the agenda. They noted that the US had recently distributed more than US$262 million to US companies and that the CDSOA continued to have a negative impact on them and other WTO members. They requested the US to furnish information on the steps it intended to take to stop the transfer of anti-dumping and countervailing duties to its industry. The EC said that it had recently adopted a regulation which would bring down the level of retaliatory measures applied in this dispute to US$ 33.38 million. This amount reflected the proportionate decrease of the amount disbursed to US companies from duties collected on EC products in the latest distribution of November 2007. The list of products that would remain subject to the 15% additional import duty was communicated on 3 April 2008 for circulation to the DSB (WT/DS217/53). Brazil, Canada, China, India and Thailand also spoke, urging the US to bring its measures into full conformity with the DSB's recommendations and rulings.

The US responded by saying that, given the repeal of the Deficit Reduction Act, the US had taken all necessary actions to implement the DSB's rulings and that no purpose would be served by providing status reports to the DSB. The US said that it was inappropriate for members to make unilateral determinations that the US was still in breach of its WTO obligations and that there was no basis for the claim that the CDSOA was causing trade distortions. In that regard, the US recalled that the adverse effects claim made by one member under the SCM Agreement in the dispute settlement proceedings was found to have no legal basis. Regarding the EC's revision of the level of suspension of concessions, he said that the US would be reviewing the matter and that it was imperative that members respected the awards given by arbitrators. The EC responded that in establishing the new level, it had taken into account the recent data made available by the US and that it had acted consistently with the arbitration award.

  

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