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.
Prior to the meeting, the DSB chair announced that the EU informed the DSB of its decision to appeal the report that examined European anti-dumping measures imposed on Chinese iron and steel products (WT/DS397/R). Consequently, the report was not considered for adoption by the DSB and this issue was removed from the agenda.
DS369: European Communities — Certain Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products
The DSB established a panel following Canada's second time request (WT/DS369/2) to review Belgium's and The Netherlands' import ban on seal products.
Canada considered that the Belgian and Dutch measures were inconsistent with the EU's WTO obligations. Canada welcomed the move from The Netherlands to repeal its ban but understood that the decision was not yet adopted and that both Belgian and Dutch measures remained into force.
The EU said that the Dutch government signed a decree withdrawing its national prohibition on 15 March 2011 which was expected to be published in the Dutch Official Bulletin within two weeks. The EU added that this decree would enter into force eight weeks after this publication. The EU explained that Belgian authorities would repeal their measure or amend it so that it was limited to implementing the EU regulation. The EU said that pursuing this dispute would serve no useful purpose and trusted that Canada would abandon its claims as soon as the Belgian and Dutch measures were effectively repealed.
Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Norway, China and the US reserved their third-party rights.
DS400: European Communities — Certain measures prohibiting the importation and marketing of seal products
The DSB established a panel following Canada's second time request (WT/DS400/4) to examine the EU-wide import ban on seal products.
Canada said that the seal harvest was lawful, sustainable, strictly regulated and guided by rigorous internationally recognised animal welfare principles. Canada said that the seal population was healthy and abundant and explained that the seal harvest provided thousands of jobs in its remote coastal and northern communities where few economic opportunities existed.
The EU said that Canada had not provided any meaningful explanation of the reason why the EU measures were inconsistent. The EU was strongly convinced of the strength of its case and stood ready to defend its measures.
Iceland said this dispute was not just about seal products but also related to the principle of sustainable utilisation of all living marine resources and the ability to market the products resulting from hunting and fishing. Iceland said that there were no justifiable grounds for the ban imposed by the EU. Iceland added that its seal population was not in any way threatened.
Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Iceland, China and the US reserved their third-party rights.
DS401: European Communities — Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products
Norway requested for the first time the establishment of a panel to review the EU-wide import ban on seal products (WT/DS401/5).
The DSB deferred the establishment of the panel following the EU's objection.
Norway saw no justification for the ban and added that this dispute was not just about seal products but about a member's right to trade in marine resources harvested in a sustainable manner. Norway said that none of the species hunted were endangered and were not listed by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Norway added that the hunt was subject to strict and detailed regulation which was strictly enforced and ensured high animal welfare standards. Norway said that it made several statements regarding this issue in the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (see minutes of meeting: G/TBT/M/51) and held two rounds of consultations with the EU. Norway said that none of these efforts resolved the dispute.
The EU regretted that Norway requested the establishment of a panel and was strongly convinced of the strength of its case. The EU stood ready to defend its measures.
DS413: China — Certain measures affecting electronic payment services
The DSB established a panel following the US second time request (WT/DS413/2) to review Chinese measures restricting market access to American suppliers of electronic payment services.
The US said that China imposed market access restrictions and requirements on service suppliers of other members seeking to supply electronic payment services in China. The US considered the measures were inconsistent with China's obligations under GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services).
China regretted that the US pursued the matter by requesting the establishment of a panel. China said it had sincere consultations with the US but was disappointed that no positive solution could be made. China added that it consistently observed the WTO agreements and its commitments made for WTO membership. China concluded it would robustly defend its interests.
The EU, Japan, Korea, Australia and Guatemala reserved their third-party rights.
DS414: China — Countervailing and anti-dumping duties on grain oriented flat-rolled electrical steel from the United States
The DSB established a panel following the US second time request (WT/DS414/2) to review Chinese anti-dumping measures imposed on American steel products.
The US said China's dumping and subsidy determinations in the investigation on US electrical steel products appeared to breach a number of China's WTO obligations. The US was concerned about every phase of China's investigation. The US said that there were profound procedural and substantive deficiencies in the investigation and these made the determinations unsustainable under WTO rules.
China believed that its imposition of the anti-dumping and countervailing measures were fully consistent with WTO rules. China added that the US panel request contained claims which had never been listed in the request for consultations. China said it would vigorously defend its rights and interests.
The EU, Japan, Korea, India, Honduras and Viet Nam reserved their third-party rights.
Adoption of reports
China, the US, Mexico, Turkey, the EU, Norway, Canada, Australia Japan and Argentina made legal comments on the outcome of the reports.
DS363: China – measurers affecting trade rights and distribution services for certain publications and audiovisual entertainment products
China reported on progress made to implement the DSB ruling (WT/DS363/17/add.2). China had until 19 March 2011 to implement the ruling.
China said that it made tremendous efforts to implement the DSB's rulings and so far had completed amendments to most measures at issue. China hoped that this would fully demonstrate its sincerity to implement the rulings. China believed that this matter would be resolved properly through joint efforts and mutual co-operation by relevant parties.
The US said that it was troubled by the lack of any apparent progress by China in bringing its measures into compliance with regards to films for theatrical release, audio-visual home entertainment products, reading material and sound recordings. The US said that it was discussing with China regarding how to handle any eventual requests for compliance and for authorization to suspend concessions. The US recalled that it did not consider the Dispute Settlement Understanding required a complainant to request compliance before pursuing a suspension of concessions.
The EU welcomed China's important efforts to implement the rulings and acknowledged this dispute touched upon complex issues. The EU was concerned that full implementation had not been achieved by the expiry of the reasonable period of time. The EU called on China to expeditiously and fully implement the rulings to remove the remaining shortcomings in China's import and distribution regime. The EU remained convinced that China's cultural policies could be developed and implemented within the boundaries set by full implementation of its WTO obligations.
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The next meeting of the DSB will be held on 21 April 2011.