WTO: 2014 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.

DS473: EU — Anti-Dumping Measures on Biodiesel from Argentina

Argentina for the second time requested the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to establish a panel to examine this dispute. The European Union said that its measures were in conformity with the WTO agreements and that it stood ready to defend them. The DSB established a panel to examine this dispute. Australia, China, Malaysia, Norway, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States reserved their third-party rights to participate in the panel’s proceedings.

DS441and DS458: Australia — Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks, Geographical Indications and other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging

The Dominican Republic requested for the second time the establishment of a panel to examine this dispute. The Dominican Republic was of the view that Australia’s plain packaging measures failed to have the desired health effects and were detrimental to the Dominican Republic’s tobacco industry. In addition, it said that plain packaging was inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreements.

Australia reiterated its view that its tobacco plain packaging measure was a sound, well-considered measure designed to achieve a legitimate objective, the protection of public health. Australia welcomed the Dominican Republic’s agreement to a joint panel composition timetable for the tobacco disputes and noted that the Director-General would on 5 May 2014 appoint the same persons to serve as panellists in all five related disputes.

Ukraine, Honduras and Cuba shared the concerns expressed by the Dominican Republic with regard to Australia’s plain packaging. New Zealand welcomed Australia’s plain packaging measures.

The DSB established a panel to examine the dispute. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, the European Union, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States, Uruguay and Zimbabwe reserved their third-party rights to participate in the panel’s proceedings.

In a separate dispute on the same subject (DS458), originated by a complaint from Cuba, Cuba expressed its view that Australia’s plain packaging measures are inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the TRIPS Agreement, the TBT Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994. Consultations were held on 13 June 2013 but failed to resolve the dispute, hence Cuba’s request for the establishment of a panel. In the interests of ensuring a harmonised panel process, Australia accepted Cuba’s first request for a panel. Australia welcomed Cuba’s efforts to ensure that the five disputes regarding Australia’s tobacco plain packaging were managed in the most efficient manner possible. Ukraine, Honduras and the Dominican Republic shared Cuba’s concerns regarding the inconsistency of Australia’s plain packaging measures.

The DSB established a panel to examine the dispute. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, the Dominican Republic, the European Union, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States, Uruguay and Zimbabwe reserved their third-party rights to participate in the panel’s proceedings.

DS456: India — Certain Measures Relating to Solar Cells and Solar Modules

The United States requested the establishment of a panel to examine this dispute. The United States was concerned about India’s domestic content requirements under Phase I and Phase II of a solar energy programme known as the National Solar Mission (NSM). The United States was of the view that the domestic content requirements of the NSM appeared to breach India’s obligations under the GATT 1994 and the Trade-related Investment Measures (TRIMs) Agreement. Consultations held in February 2013 did not resolve the dispute, hence the request for a panel. India said that it was disappointed with the US request to establish a panel and believed that a mutually agreed solution was still possible. India, therefore, was not in a position to agree to the establishment of a panel. In that regard, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel to examine this matter

DS432 and DS433: China — Measures Related to the Exportation of Rare Earths, Tungsten and Molybdenum

The panel reports in these disputes were removed from the DSB’s agenda following China’s decision to appeal.

DS285: US — Measures Affecting the Cross Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services

Dominica, speaking on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda, reiterated Antigua and Barbuda’s concern about the lack of progress in finding a solution to this dispute, in particular the US failure to comply with the DSB’s recommendations and rulings. China, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Dominica on behalf of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) supported Antigua and Barbuda’s concerns and called on the parties to engage in consultations so as to resolve this matter.

The United States said that it remained committed to constructive dialogue with Antigua and Barbuda to resolve this dispute and had, at their meeting with Antigua in November 2013, presented a range of items that could be part of a final settlement package. The United States recalled that it had invoked the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) process to withdraw the gambling concession at issue and had reached agreement with all members except Antigua and Barbuda. 

DS413: China — Certain Measures Affecting Electronic Payment Services

The United States said that it continued to have serious concerns that China had failed to bring its measures into conformity with its WTO obligations. The United States urged China to adopt measures that would allow the licensing of foreign electronic payment service suppliers. China said that it had taken all necessary actions and had fully implemented the DSB’s recommendations and rulings in this dispute.

 

Appellate Body selection process update

The Chair circulated a proposal regarding the Appellate Body (AB) selection process in which he proposed to launch a new selection process and to invite nominations of candidates for that position. The deadline for nominations would be 28 May 2014. A decision to appoint a new AB member should be taken at the regular DSB meeting scheduled for 22 July 2014. He said that it was his intention to give time to delegations for consultations with capitals. He therefore asked delegations to provide comments on the proposal to him directly or to the Secretariat as soon as possible. Once the Chair’s text is accepted, a special DSB meeting will be held to discuss the matter.

 

Status reports

Several members (the United States, the European Union, Thailand and Canada) submitted status reports on their implementation of the recommendations and rulings adopted by the DSB.

 

Next meeting

The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled for 23 May 2014.

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