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.
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Canada recalled that, in July 2016, 17 WTO members had endorsed the mechanism as a means of improving the dispute settlement system. The group had been discussing four new practice documents concerning: (1) streamlining panel composition by inviting nominations and appointments of non-governmental third-party nationals and suitable candidates who had not previously served on a panel; (2) promoting electronic filing in disputes; (3) encouraging prompt responses to third-party requests to participate in consultations; and (4) publishing disputes’ procedural documents and preliminary rulings. Several members had indicated their intention to endorse these documents and Canada encouraged other members to do so.
Sixteen delegations took the floor to thank Canada for developing and circulating the proposed practice documents. Many of these members said the new practice documents would contribute to the efficiency of the dispute settlement system and encouraged others to endorse the documents. Several cautioned the mechanism was not a substitute for work on review of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding now being carried out in special sessions of the DSB, while others called on users of the mechanism to share their experiences so that other members would have an opportunity to assess its usefulness.
Appellate Body selection process — proposals
The European Union said that its proposal, contained in document WT/DSB/W/597/Rev.2, strictly followed the model for similar decisions in the past and was identical to the other proposal put forward by seven Latin American members, except that it provides for the launching of a selection process for the replacement of Appellate Body member Mr Peter Van den Bossche, whose second and final term expires on 11 December 2017. The selection processes for both Mr Van den Bossche as well as Mr Ricardo Ramírez-Hernández, whose second four-year term expired on 30 June 2017, would be completed in time for the DSB to appoint their successors no later than 24 October 2017.
The United States said that it was not in a position to support the proposed decision to launch a process to fill a position on the Appellate Body that would only become vacant in December. However, the US was willing to join a consensus in favour of the proposal by Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.
Mexico, speaking on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru, said that they had put forward proposals at the past two DSB meetings and that many members had supported the proposals. This was a third attempt to find a solution. Mexico expressed concern that there was now a vacancy on the Appellate Body and called on members to launch the selection process.
The European Union said that it fully supported launching the selection process as soon as possible but reiterated that it did not see any reason to single out one selection process and therefore was not in a position to support the proposal by the Latin American proponents. The EU asked the DSB chair, Ambassador Juichi Ihara of Japan, to continue consultations on this issue.
More than a dozen other delegations took the floor to express disappointment that the Appellate Body selection process could not be launched at the present meeting, with many expressing concern that there was a vacancy on the Appellate Body at a time when it was facing an intensive workload.
Mexico said that the DSU explicitly states that vacancies had to be filled as they arose. One reading of this was that the DSB did not need to take a decision in order to launch the process and that it was the DSB chair’s prerogative to inform the DSB about deadlines for the process. Mexico appealed to the members to consider this option and for the chair to begin relevant consultations in this regard.
The chair noted that the DSB was not in a position to agree on either of the proposals at the present meeting. He noted the Appellate Body was facing a heavy workload and thus it was urgent that the DSB agree to start the selection process. What was lacking was flexibility and necessary instructions from capitals, the chair said, and he urged delegations to get the necessary instructions to launch the process or processes as soon as possible.
Surveillance of implementation
The United States presented its status reports with regard to DS184, “US — Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Hot-Rolled Steel Products from Japan”, and DS160, “US — Section 110(5) of the US Copyright Act”. The EU presented its status reports with regard to DS291, “EC — Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products” and DS473, “EU – Anti-dumping Measures on Biodiesel from Argentina”.
Statements on implementation
Report on the dispute settlement workload
The chair provided an update on the dispute settlement workload. There are currently 15 active panels that have not issued a final report to parties. Limited staff resources prevented the assigning of dispute settlement officers to assist panels in three pending disputes before autumn 2017, he noted. Seven additional panels were at the composition stage. Five panel reports, which had been issued to parties, were currently being translated. Regarding appeals, the chair noted that the Appellate Body was currently dealing with six appeals. Two of these appeals could only be staffed partially at this point. Regarding arbitrations, two matters had been referred to arbitration under Article 22.6 of the DSU.
The chair also reported that he was informed by the Appellate Body that Mr Ricardo Ramirez Hernandez, who is a member of three divisions currently hearing appeals, had been authorized to complete work on those three ongoing appeals.
The next regular meeting of the DSB will take place on 31 August.