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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On 10 December the Appellate Body was reduced to one member after the second terms for two of the remaining three members expired.  Normally composed of seven members, the Appellate Body no longer has the minimum three members needed to hear new appeals.

A group of  WTO members once again issued a joint call to start the selection processes for filling Appellate Body vacancies.  Speaking on behalf of the group, which now numbers 119 WTO members, Mexico said the considerable number of members submitting the proposal reflects a common concern over the current situation in the Appellate Body that is seriously affecting its workings as well as the workings of the overall dispute settlement system against the best interest of members. WTO members have a responsibility to safeguard and preserve the Appellate Body, the dispute settlement system and the multilateral trading system, Mexico said.

The United States once again said it was still not in the position to support the decision and that the systemic concerns that it previously identified remain unaddressed. The fundamental problem, it said, is that the Appellate Body is not respecting the current, clear language of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Understanding, and members cannot find meaningful solutions to this problem without understanding how members arrived at this point.  The US said it is determined to bring about real WTO reform, ensuring that the dispute settlement system reinforces the WTO's negotiating and monitoring functions.

Nearly 20 members took the floor to underline the importance of resolving the impasse as soon as possible and re-establishing a functioning Appellate Body.  They urged the General Council chair and Ambassador David Walker (New Zealand), who was appointed as facilitator for the informal discussions on resolving differences over the functioning of the  Appellate Body, to continue their efforts to seek a solution acceptable to all, and welcomed DG Azevêdo's 9 December statement that he would launch more intensive, high-level consultations on how to resolve the longstanding impasse.

Sitting in for Ambassador Walker as DSB chair, Ambassador Sunanta Kangvalkulkij (Thailand) said that both Ambassador Walker and she, as chair of the General Council, will be looking to assist WTO members in their efforts going forward in order to find a workable and agreeable solution to improve the functioning of the Appellate Body.

DS436: United States — Countervailing Measures on Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products from India

The chair announced at the start of the meeting that the United States had notified the DSB of its decision to appeal the compliance panel report in DS436. The compliance panel's report was circulated to WTO members on 15 November.  As a result, the panel report cannot be considered for adoption by the DSB until after completion of the appeal, the chair said.

Separately, the United States noted that while there were not enough Appellate Body members to hear the appeal at this time, it would confer with India so that the two sides may determine the way forward in the dispute, including whether the matters at issue may be resolved at this stage or to consider alternatives to the appellate process.

DS234: United States — Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000

The European Union reiterated its request that the United States cease transferring anti-dumping and countervailing duties to the US domestic industry, arguing that every such disbursement was a clear act of non-compliance with the rulings on this matter. Brazil and Canada supported the EU statement, while the United States said it has taken all actions necessary to implement the ruling.

DS316: European Communities and Certain Member States — Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft: Implementations of the recommendations adopted by the DSB

The United States said that once again the European Union has failed to provide a status report to the DSB concerning dispute DS316. The European Union repeated that the matter is subject to new compliance proceedings and thus there was no obligation on the EU to submit a status report.

Surveillance of implementation

Brazil presented a further status report with regards to the implementation of the WTO ruling in DS472 and DS497, “Brazil — Certain Measures Concerning Taxation and Charges”. 

The US presented status reports with regard to DS184, “US — Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Hot-Rolled Steel Products from Japan”,  DS160, “United States — Section 110(5) of US Copyright Act”, DS464, “United States — Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Measures on Large Residential Washers from Korea”, and DS471, “United States — Certain Methodologies and their Application to Anti-Dumping Proceedings Involving China”.

The European Union presented a status report with regard to DS291, “EC — Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products”.

Indonesia presented its status reports in DS477 and DS478, “Indonesia — Importation of Horticultural Products, Animals and Animal Products”. 

Next meeting

The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled for 27 January 2020.

More information on WTO dispute settlement is available here.

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