WTO: 2009 NEWS ITEMS

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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.

DS26: EC — Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (hormones): Memorandum of Understanding Between the US and the EC Regarding the Importation of High Quality Beef and the Dispute

On 13 May 2009, the EC and the US signed a memorandum of understanding on a temporary solution to the hormones dispute. According to this agreement, the US would reduce the sanctions imposed on European products. At the same time, the EC would offer a better market access for high quality beef.

This agreement was not officially notified to the DSB. This is the reason why Argentina, Uruguay and Australia requested this item to be inscribed on the DSB agenda, with the objective of gathering more information about the agreement.

Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, New Zealand, Brazil, Paraguay, Nicaragua and India expressed their concerns about the new quota the EC will introduce on high quality beef. They asked whether it would be applied on a MFN basis in consistence with WTO agreements and how it would be operated.

More specifically, Uruguay said that the total quota for high quality meat in the EC market was currently 60,0000 tonnes and the duty applied was 20%. Out of the quota, a 100% duty would apply. Uruguay added that 19% of these 60,000 tonnes came from the US (about 11,500 tonnes). Uruguay pointed out that if the US would be the only beneficiary of the new quota, it would have access to a bigger quota in the EC, which would rise from 11,500 to 56,500 tonnes. Uruguay said that these new volumes would have zero tariff in the EC whereas other suppliers would have to pay 20% tariff in quota or 100% if beyond the quota. Uruguay added that this would extend the EC quota from 19% to 54% for the US. Uruguay stated that other producers would have to face a competitor with a unique and exclusive preference of zero tariff and added that high quality meat was its main export product amounting to 25% of total exports. Uruguay said the EC was its main export market in general and for high quality meat in particular. Uruguay concluded that any compensation agreement between the EC and the US should not be discriminatory.

The EC said that the quota would be applied on a non-discriminatory basis and that the definition would be origin-neutral. The EC gave a more detailed explanation of the definition of high quality beef and said that beef meeting this definition would qualify for the quota. The EC also said that it would notify the understanding to the DSB at the beginning of August 2009.

The US said that the agreement with the EC demonstrated there was a better way forward in this dispute than pursuing further litigation. The US added that the quota would be origin-neutral.


DS366: Colombia — Indicative Prices and Restrictions on Ports of Entry

Following the adoption of the panel report (WT/DS366/R/) on 20 May 2009, Colombia had 30 days to inform the DSB of its intentions to implement the recommendations contained in the report.

Columbia said that it intended to comply with the DSB recommendations. Following the rules laid down by article 21.3 of the DSU (Dispute Settlement Understanding), Colombia asked for a reasonable period of time as it would need to fully reform its custom valuation system.

Panama objected to Colombia's request for a reasonable period of time, and said that a full reform was not necessary to comply with the DSB ruling. Panama pointed out that in the past, Colombia had eliminated similar measures within a short period of time.

Chinese Taipei also urged Colombia to comply promptly.

Appellate Body new appointments

According to the procedure agreed by the DSB on 22 December 2008 and following the recommendations of the selection committee the DSB appointed both Rícardo Ramirez Hernández of Mexico and Peter Van den Bossche of the EC (Belgium) for four years, respectively beginning 1 July 2009 and 12 December 2009.

The DSB also reappointed David Unterhalter as a member of the Appellate Body for four years beginning 12 December 2009.

The selection committee was composed of the Director-General, and the Chairs of the General Council, the DSB, the Goods Council, the Services Council and the Trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Council.

See press release here

  

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Next meeting 

The next meeting of the DSB  will be held on 20 July 2009.

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