This summary has been prepared by the Secretariat under its own responsibility. The summary is for general information only and is not intended to affect the rights and obligations of Members.
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Summary of the dispute to date
The summary below was up-to-date at
Complaint by the United States
On 14 March 2018, the United States requested consultations with India concerning certain alleged export subsidy measures.
The United States claimed that the measures appear to be inconsistent with:
- Articles 3.1(a) and 3.2 of the SCM Agreement.
On 23 March 2018, Canada and the European Union requested to join the consultations.
Panel and Appellate Body proceedings
On 17 May 2018, the United States requested the establishment of a panel.
At its meeting on 28 May 2018, the DSB established a panel. Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, the European Union, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei and Thailand reserved their third-party rights.
On 16 July 2018, the United States requested the Director-General to compose the panel. On 23 July 2018, the Director-General composed the panel.
On 3 December 2018, the Chair of the panel informed the DSB that the beginning of the panel's work had been delayed as a result of a lack of available resources in the Secretariat, and that the panel expected to issue its final report to the parties not before the second quarter of 2019.
This dispute concerns the United States' challenge of alleged export subsidies provided by India under five sets of measures: the Export Oriented Units, Electronics Hardware Technology Park and Bio-Technology Park (EOU/EHTP/BTP) Schemes; the Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme; the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Scheme; a collection of duty stipulations described in these proceedings as the Duty-Free Imports for Exporters Scheme (DFIS); and the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).
The alleged export subsidies under the EOU/EHTP/BTP Schemes, EPCG Scheme, SEZ Scheme, and DFIS consist of exemptions and deductions from customs duties and other taxes. The alleged export subsidies under MEIS consist of government-issued notes (“scrips”) that can be used to pay for certain liabilities vis-à-vis the Government and are freely transferable.
Special and differential treatment
India argued before the Panel that the special and differential treatment provisions of Article 27 of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement) still excluded it from the application of the prohibition on export subsidies. However, the parties did not dispute that India had graduated from the special and differential treatment provision that it originally fell under (Article 27.2(a) and Annex VII(b)), and the Panel found that no further transition period under Article 27.2(b) is available to India after graduation. Article 27 therefore no longer excludes India from the application of the prohibition on export subsidies and from the corresponding dispute settlement procedures, laid out in Articles 3 and 4 of the SCM Agreement, respectively.
Substantive findings concerning the measures at issue
India also argued that four of the five schemes at issue (i.e. all the challenged schemes except for the SEZ Scheme) fell within footnote 1 of the SCM Agreement, which carves out from the definition of a subsidy, under certain conditions, the exemption from or remission of duties or taxes on an exported product. On these grounds, the Panel rejected the United States' claims regarding certain challenged customs duty exemptions under DFIS, and regarding the challenged exemption from excise duties under the EOU/EHTP/BTP Schemes.
However, the Panel found that the remaining measures under the four schemes did not meet the conditions of footnote 1, read together with the relevant paragraphs of Annex I of the SCM Agreement, in particular because of the nature of the goods for which the customs duty exemptions were available and, in the case of MEIS, because of the entire design, structure and operation of the measure.
For these measures, and for the exemptions and deductions under the SEZ Scheme, for which footnote 1 was not invoked, the Panel then found that the United States had established the existence of a financial contribution (in the form of revenue foregone, in the case of the exemptions and deductions from duties and other taxes, and in the form of a direct transfer of funds, for the provision of scrips under MEIS) through which a benefit was conferred on the recipient. Further, the Panel also found that the United States had established that each of those measures was contingent in law upon export performance. The Panel therefore concluded that the United States had demonstrated the existence of prohibited export subsidies, inconsistent with Articles 3.1(a) and 3.2 of the SCM Agreement.
The Panel's recommendation
The Panel recommended that India withdraw the prohibited subsidies under DFIS within 90 days from adoption of the Report; that it withdraw the prohibited subsidies under the EOU/EHTP/BTP Schemes, EPCG Scheme, and MEIS, within 120 days from adoption of the Report; and that it withdraw the prohibited subsidies under the SEZ Scheme within 180 days from adoption of the Report.
On 19 November 2019, India notified the DSB of its decision to appeal to the Appellate Body certain issues of law and legal interpretations in the panel report.
Mutually Agreed Solution
On 13 July 2023, India and the United States notified the DSB, pursuant to Article 3.6 of the DSU, that they had reached a mutually agreed solution to the matter raised in this dispute. In the same communication, India withdrew its notification to the DSB of an appeal and the parties confirmed their agreement that the panel report may not be adopted by the DSB, as through their mutually agreed solution the dispute had been terminated.
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