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.
The DSB agreed with the Chairman’s proposal for appointment/reappointment of Appellate Body members. In particular, it agreed to launch a selection process for one position in the Appellate Body to replace Ms Yuejiao Zhang, whose second four-year term of office will expire on 31 May 2016. Consistent with the procedures set out in the DSB rules and with previous selection processes, it agreed to establish a Selection Committee composed of the Director-General and the 2016 Chairpersons of the General Council, the Goods Council, the Services Council, the TRIPS Council and the DSB, to be chaired by the DSB Chair.
There was agreement to set a deadline of 15 March 2016 at 6 pm for members to submit nominations of candidates, and to request the Selection Committee to carry out its work in April/May 2016 in order to make a recommendation to the DSB by no later than 12 May 2016 so that the DSB can take a decision to appoint a new Appellate Body member at its regular meeting scheduled for 23 May 2016.
The DSB also agreed to request the DSB Chairman to carry out consultations on the possible reappointment of Mr Seung Wha Chang, whose first four-year term of office will expire on 31 May 2016, and who is eligible for reappointment by the DSB to a second term as Appellate Body member. He has expressed his willingness to serve a second term.
The United States presented status reports on five disputes, including “US — Section 211 Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998 (DS176)”.
The US reported that the US Patent and Trademark Office had granted the petition to renew the trademark registration of Havana Club. In light of these developments, the US said that it would be providing the EU directly with information and updates regarding this matter going forward and hoped that a more cooperative phase would create conditions for achieving a final resolution of this dispute. The EU welcomed the recent developments but noted that, for the matter to be fully resolved, the US had to repeal Section 211. However, the EU did not find it necessary for the US to provide monthly status reports in this dispute under item 1 of the DSB regular meetings.
Cuba, supported by a number of delegations, noted that Section 211 remained in force and, in that regard, this dispute must remain on the DSB’s agenda. Cuba said it recognized that the renewal of the registration of the trademark of the Cuba export company by the Patent and Trademark Office is a just and positive step of the US administration as it is the recognition of the rights of the Cuban company as the owner of the trademark. However, Cuba said, it should be noted that while Section 211 remains in effect, it prevents the recognition by the US courts of Cuban trademarks and patents and thus, under this law, the possibility that the registration be cancelled at any time by the decision of a US court remains.
The EU presented a status report in the dispute “EC — Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products”. The EU reported that, on 4 December 2015, the EU Commission had authorised the placing on the market of two genetically modified (GM) maize products for food and feed use. On 11 January 2016, the Appeal Committee had voted on three draft decisions authorising the placing on the market of three GM soybean products. The US reiterated its concerns regarding EU measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products.
Argentina presented a status report regarding the disputes “Argentina — Measures Affecting the Importation of Goods”. Argentina reported that it had eliminated the WTO-inconsistent measures, it had repealed the WTO-inconsistent import licensing procedure and had replaced it with another system. In that regard, Argentina considered that it had fully complied with the DSB’s recommendations and rulings in these disputes. The EU, US and Japan did not agree with Argentina’s claim of having fully complied. In response to the co-complainants, Argentina expressed its commitment to full implementation and its readiness to work with the co-complainants.
Japan and the EU, supported by India, Brazil, China, and Canada, called on the US to stop the transfer of anti-dumping and countervailing duties to its industry and to submit status reports in these disputes. The US said that it had taken all actions necessary to implement the DSB’s recommendations and rulings in these disputes.
DS413: China — Certain Measures Affecting Electronic Payment Services
The US said that it continued to have serious concerns regarding China’s failure to bring its measures into conformity with its WTO obligations in this dispute. China said that it had taken all necessary actions and had fully complied with the DSB’s recommendations and rulings in this dispute.
DS371: Thailand — Customs and Fiscal Measures on Cigarettes from the Philippines
The Philippines reiterated its concerns about outstanding compliance issues in this dispute and called on Thailand to fully comply with the DSB’s recommendations and rulings. Thailand said that it had taken all actions necessary to implement the DSB’s recommendations and rulings in this dispute.
DS429: US — Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Shrimp from Viet Nam
Viet Nam expressed its continued concerns about implementation in this dispute. Viet Nam noted that nine months had passed since the adoption of the reports and there was no information or evidence that the United States had taken any steps towards implementation.
The US said that it did not understand Viet Nam’s rationale for inscribing this item on the DSB’s agenda. The US recalled that the Arbitrator had determined that the reasonable period of time (RPT) to implement the findings in this dispute would be 15 months, ending on 22 July 2016. The first US status report would be due on 15 June 2016, six months after the date of establishment of the RPT. The US was ready to discuss particular questions regarding its ongoing implementation process bilaterally with Viet Nam. Viet Nam responded that it could raise the matter of implementation at any time.
The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled for 26 February 2016.