WTO: 2015 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.

Canada noted that the proceedings in this dispute had taken approximately five and a half years, during which Canadian livestock producers had continued to suffer the costs of the COOL measure. Canada welcomed the panel and Appellate Body (AB) findings which confirmed the US violations of its national treatment obligations under both the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994.

Canada called on the United States to repeal the provisions of the amended COOL measure in respect of beef and pork and thus rectify its WTO obligations and remove the unnecessary barrier to trade. Canada informed the DSB that, should the US fail to comply with the DSB's recommendations and rulings, it would seek authorisation from the DSB to suspend concessions to the US. With regard to the delays in this dispute, in Canada's view, this was a reminder of the importance of members' ongoing efforts to address the workload challenges. Canada believed that the continued credibility and legitimacy of the system depends on its capacity to live up to the original promise of prompt settlement of disputes.

Mexico recalled that it had requested consultations with the US in the original proceedings in 2008, more than seven years ago. Mexico welcomed the adoption of the panel and AB reports which confirmed the discriminatory nature of the COOL measure as it gave rise to less favourable treatment for livestock exports from Mexico. Mexico appreciated the AB's conclusions in determining that the exemptions of the modified COOL measure were not designed nor applied impartially. Mexico trusted that the US will comply immediately with the DSB's recommendations and rulings. Should that not be the case, Mexico reserved its right to proceed to the suspension of concessions and other obligations.

The United States expressed its disappointment with the findings of the compliance panels and the AB report. The US noted that the panels and the AB left undisturbed the finding in the original proceeding that the provision of origin information to consumers is a legitimate objective under the covered agreements. In the US view, it would appear from the findings that there is no clear way under the covered agreements for a member to achieve that legitimate objective. It would appear to mean that the US cannot require US retailers to inform consumers of beef and pork about where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. The US strongly disagreed with this conclusion.

Concerning the length of the proceedings, the US noted that the fact that the AB did not circulate its report for 172 days is not consistent with the Dispute Settlement Understanding. The US said that it had fully understood the difficulty the AB had in meeting the 90-day deadline in this dispute. The US also said that the three parties to this dispute had written to the AB to express their understanding of this situation, to provide their consent to the need for more time, and to request a meeting so that the AB could provide more information as to the date when the report would be circulated. The US added that, for reasons not yet explained, the AB had rejected the joint request to meet with the parties to the dispute, contrary to past practice.

The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled for 19 June 2015.

 

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