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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DS618 European Union — Countervailing duties on imports of biodiesel from Indonesia

Indonesia submitted its second request for the establishment of a panel to determine whether countervailing duties imposed by the European Union on imports of biodiesel from Indonesia are in line with WTO rules. The EU said it was not in a position to agree to Indonesia's first request at a DSB meeting on 26 October.  Indonesia reiterated its right to protect its national interests and urged the European Union to bring its measures into conformity with WTO provisions.

The European Union said it believes the measures at stake are fully justified, adding that it is confident its measures will be declared in line with WTO law.

The DSB agreed to the establishment of the panel. The United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Russian Federation, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Canada, China, Argentina and Türkiye reserved their third party rights to participate in the panel proceedings.

DS591 Colombia — Anti-Dumping Duties on Frozen Fries from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands

Colombia informed the DSB that on 21 November it published a ministerial resolution which fully implements the recommendations of the DSB in DS591 based on the conclusions of the panel and the  Multi-party interim appeal arrangement (MPIA) arbitration.  Colombia therefore considers that it has implemented all of its obligations as stated in the arbitration award and that it considers this dispute has been successfully resolved. Colombia also said it was happy the MPIA procedure was successfully used for the first time in this dispute, which clearly points out the usefulness and efficiency of this procedure.

The European Union said it was disappointed Colombia did not meet the 5 November deadline agreed by Colombia and the EU for implementing the DS591 ruling and that it reserved its right to express its views on the matter of compliance at a later stage. The EU also said it regretted Colombia has not provided any status report on its progress in implementing the ruling as required by the WTO's Dispute Settlement Understanding.

Appellate Body appointments

Guatemala, speaking on behalf of 130 members, introduced for the 69th 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, Guatemala said for the group.

The United States repeated that it does not support the proposed decision to commence the appointment of Appellate Body members as its longstanding concerns with WTO dispute settlement remain unaddressed. The US said it is committed to working towards a fundamentally reformed and improved system and that it welcomes the experimentation of members in finding alternative means to resolve their disputes, such as the increased adoption of panel reports, including through agreements to adopt that have been reached prior to circulation of a panel’s report; arrangements between specific members to permit review of a report; and intensified discussions to find solutions to disputes.

Twenty-four members then took the floor to comment, with two of them speaking on behalf of groups of members. Many noted the commitment made by ministers at the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference to engage in discussions aimed at securing a fully functioning dispute settlement system by 2024 and pledged their support for securing an outcome, citing the importance of a fully-functioning system to the security and predictability of the multilateral trading system.  Several referenced the informal discussions on dispute settlement reform now underway and welcomed the progress made there.  Several also made reference to the MPIA as a temporary alternative means available to securing an appeal review while the Appellate Body remains non-functioning.

Guatemala said that on behalf of the 130 members it regretted that for the 69th occasion members have not been able to launch the selection processes. Ongoing conversations about reform of the dispute settlement system should not prevent the Appellate Body from continuing to operate fully, and members should comply with their obligation under the DSU to fill the vacancies as they arise, Guatemala said for the group.

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.” 

Other business

Under “other business,” Antigua and Barbuda noted that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the initiation of its dispute complaint against the United States in DS285, “US — Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services.”  Antigua and Barbuda said it would propose a substantive agenda item at the next DSB meeting in order to brief members more fully on this case and to learn from the US delegation what compliance actions the US authorities have taken or intend to take. Antigua and Barbuda said the dispute has become the “poster child” for reform of the WTO dispute settlement system because it shows how broken the dispute settlement system is.

The United States responded that this issue could have been put on the proposed agenda of the meeting if a substantive discussion was intended. The US said it takes note of the statement by Antigua and Barbuda and that it would convey its message to capital.

On behalf of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said it remains very disappointed there has been no definitive resolution of the dispute after 20 years.  India and Bangladesh also took the floor to urge a resolution to the dispute.

Also under other business, India took the floor to introduce the joint communication from Egypt, India and South Africa circulated on 24 November, “Reflections on the Reform of the WTO Dispute Settlement System.” (JOB/DSB/7). India said it was now critical to initiate formal multilateral discussions on dispute reform and that the manner in which the outcomes of the informal process are integrated into the multilateral process must be carefully considered since that will be essential to having comprehensive, balanced and equitable outcomes.

In addition to the proponents, 16 members took the floor to comment.  Some developing country members underlined the difficulties they face in ensuring their effective participation in the informal dispute settlement reform talks now under way and the importance of addressing the concerns of interest to developing and least developed country members. They also stressed the need to bring the discussions into a formal process. 

Some members said the informal process currently underway is open, transparent and inclusive and addresses the concerns highlighted by the proponents; they also welcomed the progress being achieved in the informal discussions.

Next meeting

The next regular DSB meeting will take place on 18 December.

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