DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

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.

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DS526: United Arab Emirates — Measures Relating to Trade in Goods and Services, and Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

Qatar requested the establishment of a panel to consider UAE measures that Qatar says violate its rights under the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It said that the rights of many members were being violated by the UAE's attempt to economically isolate Qatar  and that the UAE had refused to engage in consultations with Qatar in violation of Articles 3.10 and 4 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). While not disputing the right of members to take bona fide security measures, Qatar said such a defence could not be self-regulated as that would alter the balance of members' rights under the WTO agreements.

The United Arab Emirates objected to Qatar's panel request, saying that it and eight other countries were forced to take measures in response to Qatar's funding of terrorist organizations. Article XXI of the GATT, Article XIVbis of the GATS and Article 73 of the TRIPS Agreement allows members to take action in the interests of national security. In any event, the UAE said the issues in this dispute were not trade issues, the WTO's dispute system was not equipped to hear them, and clear language existed in the agreements excluding such disputes from the WTO.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt associated themselves with the UAE statement and said they had taken necessary measures against Qatar in line with the national security exceptions provided for in the WTO agreements. Saudi Arabia also noted that nothing in the agreements requires a member to furnish information to the WTO regarding its essential security interests.

Qatar replied that various contradictions belied the UAE's claim that the measures were based on security concerns. The measures served a commercial purpose and its allegations regarding Qatar were total fabrications. WTO defences were subject to multilateral oversight and the UAE's measures were not immune from review, Qatar said.

The United States said that national security issues were political and not appropriate for the WTO dispute system. If the parties are unable to resolve the issue bilaterally, the US suggested they ask for assistance from the Director-General or another WTO member. The United Arab Emirates said that it still objected to the establishment of a panel.

Following the objection by the UAE, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.

DS522: Canada – Measures Concerning Trade in Commercial Aircraft

The DSB agreed to designate Mr Hanspeter Tschaeni as a representative to serve the function of facilitating the information-gathering process in the DS522 panel proceedings pursuant to paragraph 4 of Annex V of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement). Canada said it had concerns with several aspects of Brazil's panel request, stating that certain issues were not properly before the panel, and that it would be filing a request asking the panel to issue a preliminary ruling on these matters.

DS442: European Union – Anti-Dumping Measures on Imports of Certain Fatty Alcohols from Indonesia

The European Union said that it intended to fully comply with the DSB's recommendations and rulings in DS442. Indonesia thanked the EU for its statement, reiterated the Appellate Body's findings in DS442 and urged the EU to bring itself into compliance.

Appellate Body matters

The DSB chair, Ambassador Junichi Ihara (Japan), said that while informal consultations over the present impasse on the appointment of new Appellate Body members were being held at both the political and technical level, there had been no notable developments so far. He urged WTO members to show flexibility and creativity to launch the selection processes as soon as possible.

The European Union said that its proposal for launching the selection process followed the model of similar past proposals and provided for the selection process to be conducted as soon as possible. The EU noted that the proposal by the Latin American proponents was very similar to the EU's proposal and thus the EU would be willing to join a consensus to adopt that proposal as well.

Mexico, speaking on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru, said that the group's proposal sought to launch a process to fill all three vacancies on the Appellate Body. Mexico said the group was flexible regarding the deadlines suggested in the proposal so long as the processes were launched without delay.

The United States said that it could not consider launching a selection process to fill a vacancy if the person to be replaced continued to serve and decide appeals. The DSB would need to take appropriate action first, the US said, adding that it has been consulting with members on the matter.

A number of delegations expressed their concern about the effects of the vacancies on the dispute settlement system.  Several delegations pointed out the obligation on the DSB, pursuant to Article 17.2 of the DSU, to fill vacancies as they arise.  Brazil noted that DSU Article 17.1 established that Appellate Body members should serve in rotation and DSU Article 17.3 stipulated that the Appellate Body be broadly representative of the WTO membership; these provisions could not be complied with if there were too few sitting members. 

While several delegations noted their willingness to discuss the US concerns, many said that the resolution of those concerns should not be linked to the launching of the selection process.  Some delegations requested the United States to put forward concrete ideas on how to address its concerns.  New Zealand said that the resolution of the US concerns could only occur on a prospective basis. China said that the selection processes could not be launched because of the US concerns but the US has not submitted any proposals to resolve the matter, which had it questioning the reasons behind the blockage.

A number of delegations said they would support either the EU or Latin American group proposal for launching the selection process, urged members to be flexible,  and/or called for the selection process to be launched without delay.  Some expressed their hope that the impasse would be resolved before the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December.  Singapore called on the DSB to work on a final text for a decision which would allow the DSB to act immediately once the impasse has been resolved.

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 European Union 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”. Canada presented its status report with regard to DS482, "Canada – Anti-dumping Measures on Imports of Certain Carbon Steel Welded Pipe from the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu".

Statements on implementation

The EU, Canada and Brazil made statements regarding US implementation of DS217 and DS234, “US — Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000”.

Next meeting

The next regular meeting of the DSB will take place on 22 November.

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