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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DS524: Costa Rica — Measures Concerning the Importation of Fresh Avocados from Mexico
Mexico said it welcomed the WTO panel ruling circulated on 13 April regarding measures imposed by Costa Rica on the importation of fresh avocados from Mexico, as it made an adequate analysis of the measures adopted by Costa Rica and determined that they were not consistent with the provisions of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, in particular because (i) the measures were not based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances; and (ii) they thus constitute a disguised restriction on trade.
Mexico said it also welcomed the 18 May announcement by Costa Rica setting out new requirements for the import of fresh avocados from Mexico and other countries and annulling the measures previously in place. Mexico said it appreciated Costa Rica's efforts to comply with the panel's findings.
Costa Rica noted the importance it attaches to compliance and said it respects the WTO dispute settlement system; thus it is important to have prompt compliance with the rulings of the WTO dispute panels. Costa Rica noted the adoption of a domestic resolution which was notified to the WTO on 20 May setting out the new requirements for imports of fresh avocados. This has allowed for the reinstatement of avocado imports from Mexico with shipments already under way, Costa Rica said.
Both the United States and the European Union welcomed the agreement of the parties to allow for the adoption of the panel report by the DSB. The US said adoption shows that WTO dispute settlement can provide support to Mexico and Costa Rica as they seek a resolution of their dispute. The EU noted this was the first of two disputes on the 31 May DSB agenda that benefitted from arrangements where the two parties agreed in advance not to appeal the findings to the WTO's non-functioning Appellate Body while preserving their right to an independent appeal review through the Article 25 arbitration provisions of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU).
The DSB adopted the panel report.
DS595: European Union — Safeguard Measures on Certain Steel Products
Turkey said it welcomed the panel's report in DS595 circulated on 29 April which found that the EU's safeguard measure on imports of certain steel products was inconsistent with the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Safeguards Agreement.
In particular, Turkey said, the panel found that the EU's threat of serious injury determination and establishment of a logical connection between the unforeseen developments and the increased imports were fundamentally deficient. Turkey said it expects the EU will promptly and fully implement the panel's findings and that any review by the EU should lead to a substantial amendment or even the withdrawal of the safeguard measures at issue.
The European Union said it was satisfied with the panel's ruling because, in its view, the most important questions were resolved in the EU's favour, which means the panel confirmed the approach of the EU and the legality of the safeguard measure. By not appealing, the parties consider the panel ruling was a sufficiently good outcome and not worthwhile to appeal. The EU noted that the parties had agreed in advance on alternative appeals procedures under Article 25 of the DSU which not only guaranteed an effective right to appellate review but also guaranteed a binding dispute settlement system that cannot be jeopardised by appealing to the non-functioning Appellate Body.
The United States welcomed the agreement of the parties on a way forward and said it shows that WTO dispute settlement can provide support to Turkey and the EU as they seek a resolution of their dispute. Korea urged the EU to take prompt steps to implement the ruling and said the EU should consider rescinding the safeguard.
The DSB adopted the panel report.
Appellate Body appointments
Mexico, speaking on behalf of 123 co-sponsors, introduced for the 54th time the group's proposal to start the selection processes for filling vacancies on the Appellate Body. The extensive number of members submitting the proposal reflects a common concern over the current situation in the Appellate Body which is seriously affecting the overall WTO dispute settlement system against the best interest of members, Mexico said for the group.
The United States said members are aware of the longstanding US concerns with WTO dispute settlement. Those concerns remain unaddressed, and the United States does not support the proposed decision to commence the appointment of Appellate Body members. The first step towards reform is to better understand the interests of all members in WTO dispute settlement. A true reform discussion should aim to ensure that WTO dispute settlement reflects the real interests of members, and not prejudge what a reformed system would look like.
Around 20 delegations took the floor to reiterate the importance of the WTO's two-tiered dispute settlement system to the stability and predictability of the multilateral trading system. They called on all members to engage in constructive discussions in order to restore a fully functioning dispute settlement system, which some cited as a top priority for reform of the organization.
For the 123 members, Mexico again came back to say the fact a member may have concerns about certain aspects of the functioning of the Appellate Body cannot serve as pretext to impair and disrupt the work of the DSB and dispute settlement in general. It said that there was no legal justification for the current blocking of the selection processes, which is causing concrete nullification and impairment of rights for many members.
The DSB chair, Ambassador Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme of Botswana, said she understood that informal discussions on dispute settlement reform were taking place at the technical level among delegations and expressed hope that, going forward, members would be able to find a solution to this matter.
Under this item, ten members took the floor to express their strong opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian delegate responded by saying that the WTO was not the proper venue for a discussion of this nature.
Surveillance of implementation
The United States 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.”
The next DSB meeting will take place on 30 June.