WTO: 2012 NEWS ITEMS

DISPUTE SETTLEMENT


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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.

Panel established on US/China dispute on countervailing and anti-dumping measures on Chinese products. Other requests involving Argentina and Dominican Republic were rejected. Mexico asked its request to be removed from the agenda.

 

DS449: United States — Countervailing and Anti-dumping Measures on Certain Products from China

China reiterated its concern that the US was not administering its trade remedy laws in a uniform, impartial and reasonable manner and that the US Public Law 112-99 was inconsistent with the GATT 1994, the SCM Agreement and the Anti-Dumping Agreement.  The US regretted the China had chosen to pursue its request for panel establishment and noted that its measures were consistent with its WTO obligations.  The DSB established a panel to examine this dispute.  Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Viet Nam and Turkey reserved their third-party rights to participate in the Panel’s proceedings.

 

DS441: Australia — Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks, Geographical Indications and Other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging

The Dominican Republic said that Australia’s measures regulating the plain packaging of tobacco products appeared to be inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the TRIPS Agreement and the TBT Agreement.  The measures restricted the essential functions of a trade mark and geographical origin of certain products of special reputation.  Additionally, there was no scientific proof that these measures would reduce the use of tobacco.  Australia said that its tobacco plain packaging was a sound, well-considered measure designed to achieve a legitimate objective, the protection of public health.  In its view, the plain packaging legislation did not undermine the protection afforded under the TRIPS Agreement nor was the measure more trade restrictive than necessary to fulfil its legitimate objective.  The measure was origin neutral, even-handed in its application, non-discriminatory and applied to all tobacco products. Thus, Australia was not in a position to agree to the establishment of a panel. Honduras, Ukraine, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba Zimbabwe and Nicaragua shared the Dominican Republic’s concern regarding the effect of Australia’s measures. New Zealand, Uruguay and Norway supported Australia’s measure and noted the sovereign right of Members to regulate and protect public health. Further to Australia’s objection, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.

 

DS438; DS444 and DS445: Argentina — Measures Affecting the Importation of Goods

The EU, the US and Japan said that certain measures for the importation of goods appeared to be inconsistent with Argentina’s obligations under the GATT 1994 and the Import Licensing Agreement.  In particular, they referred to three types of measures: (i) non-automatic import licensing measures which subject the importation of goods into Argentina to the Certificados de Importacion (CIs); (ii) requirements from importers to submit a Declaración Jurada Anticipada de Importación (DJAI); and (iii) requirements on importers to undertake trade balancing or similar commitments as a condition for importation.  These measure affected trade and investment flows into the country.  The complainants therefore requested the establishment of a panel.  Argentina noted that it had consulted with the complainants and had hoped to resolve the dispute in the consultation phase.  Argentina did not agree that its measures were WTO-inconsistent and argued that the effect of the application of such licenses did not imply a restriction on trade.  Therefore, it was not in apposition to accept the request for panel establishment

 

DS443: European Union and a Member State — Certain Measures Concerning the Importation of Biodiesels

Argentina referred to a measure by the Spanish Government that provided that biodiesel from outside the Community cannot be computed for the purpose of the compliance with mandatory biofuel targets, resulting in discrimination between products of EU origin and products of other origins.  Argentina recognized that the individual call for the allocation of quotas for biodiesel production had been cancelled, but was concerned that the main measure had not been revoked, with negative effects on Argentine biodiesel producers.  In its view, the measure at issue was inconsistent with Article III of GATT 1994 and Article 2 of the TRIM Agreement.  As the consultations held with the EU failed to settle this dispute, Argentina requested the establishment of a panel.  The EU considered the request to be inappropriate, as the measure in question was under revision and was not in effect.  For this reason, the EU opposed the establishment of a panel.  Further to the EU’s objection, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.

 

DS447: United States — Measures Affecting the Importation of Animals, Meat and Other Animal Products from Argentina

Argentina challenged certain US measures that affected Argentine imports and that it considered inconsistent with, inter alia, fundamental rules of the SPS Agreement and with Article I and XI of GATT 1994.  Following the failure of the consultations to resolve this dispute and given the long time since Argentina submitted the pertinent applications to request sanitary authorization, Argentina requested the establishment of a panel.  The US believed that the measures in question were fully compliant with the WTO Agreements and said that the US regulatory authorities were engaged in the process of evaluating sanitary issues related to Argentina’s products.  The US said it was not in a position to agree to the establishment of a panel.  Further to the US’s objection, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.

 

DS448: United States — Measures Affecting the Importation of Fresh Lemons

Argentina considered the US ban on imports of citrus fruits, including fresh lemons from the North-West region of Argentina, to be inconsistent with Articles I, III, X, and XI of GATT 1994 as well as with several SPS provisions.  After its consultations with the US failed to resolve the dispute, Argentina requested the establishment of a panel.  The US considered that the measures at issue were fully compliant with the WTO Agreements.  Moreover, the US expressed concern that Argentina’s consultation request on this and on the matter under the previous agenda item came shortly after the US and other Members had requested consultations with regard to Argentina’s import licensing measures.

Under “Other Business”, Australia made a statement on a systemic issue relating to Article 3.7 of the DSU.  Australia was concerned with the apparent increase in disputes that seemed to be initiated in response to another Member exercising its right to seek redress through the dispute settlement system and urged Members to be judicious and reasonable in their use of the dispute settlement system, particularly in situations where real opportunities existed for amicable resolution without the need to proceed with formal dispute settlement.  Turkey supported Australia’s statement. 

 

(DS285) Antigua and Barbuda also made a statement under “Other Business” regarding the dispute: United States — Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services

Since it had been unable to place this item on the agenda, Antigua and Barbuda took this opportunity to explain the rationale for its request for the suspension of concessions and other obligations to the US in accordance with Article 22.7 of the DSU.  Antigua said it intended to place its request for retaliation on the Agenda of the next DSB meeting to be held in January.  Antigua and Barbuda said that the persistence of the US measures had caused real damage to its industry.  It also noted that the US had taken the exceptional step of trying to come into compliance with the DSB rulings and recommendations by simply removing the offending commitment from its GATS schedule of concessions.  The US said that Antigua’s statement fundamentally misrepresented the current status of this matter.  The dispute involved an area of services regulation — gambling and betting services — that the US never intended to be included in its GATS schedule.  Following its initiation of the modification procedure under Article XXI of the GATS, the US had reached agreement with all interested Members, except Antigua, on a package of substantial compensatory adjustments to the US GATS schedule.

Also, under “Other Business”, the Chair made a statement concerning the issue of the possible reappointment of one Appellate Body member.  In this regard, he drew attention to the fact that the first four-year term of office of Mr Ricardo Ramírez Hernández would expire at the end of June 2013 and it was his intention to consult informally on his reappointment to a second and final four-year term of office.  He invited any delegation with views on this matter to contact him directly before the next regular DSB meeting scheduled for 28 January 2013.  It is his intention to report back to delegations on the outcome of his consultations at that meeting.

Several Members (the United States, the European Union, Thailand, Philippines and China) presented status reports on different disputes.

The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled for 28 January 2013.

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