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 India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand.
On 8 October 1996, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand requested consultations with the United States concerning a ban on importation of shrimp and shrimp products from these complainants imposed by the US under Section 609 of US Public Law 101-162. Violations of Articles I, XI and XIII of the GATT 1994, as well nullification and impairment of benefits, were alleged.
On 9 January 1997, Malaysia and Thailand requested the establishment of a panel. At its meeting on 22 January 1997, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel. On 30 January 1997, Pakistan also requested the establishment of a panel.
Panel and Appellate Body proceedings
Further to Malaysia’s and Thailand's request, the DSB established a Panel at its meeting on 25 February 1997. At the same meeting, the DSB established a panel in accordance with the request made Pakistan. It also agreed that the two panels would be consolidated in a single panel, pursuant to Article 9.1 of the DSU with standard terms of reference. Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the European Communities, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Senegal, Singapore and Sri Lanka reserved their third-party rights.
On 25 February 1997, India also requested the establishment of a panel on the same matter. At its meeting on 20 March 1997, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel. Further to a second request to establish a panel by India, the DSB agreed to establish a panel at its meeting on 10 April 1997. The DSB also agreed that this panel would be consolidated with the panel already established at the request of Malaysia, Thailand and Pakistan. El Salvador and Venezuela reserved their third party rights, in addition to those delegations who had reserved their third-party rights to the panel established at the requests of Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand. On 15 April 1997, the panel was composed.
On 15 May 1998, the panel report was circulated to Members. The panel found that the import ban in shrimp and shrimp products as applied by the United States is inconsistent with Article XI:1 of the GATT 1994, and cannot be justified under Article XX of the GATT 1994.
On 13 July 1998, the United States notified its intention to appeal certain issues of law and legal interpretations developed by the panel. The Appellate Body report was circulated to Members on 12 October 1998. The Appellate Body reversed the panel’s finding that the US measure at issue is not within the scope of measures permitted under the chapeau of Article XX of the GATT 1994, but concluded that the US measure, while qualifying for provisional justification under Article XX(g), fails to meet the requirements of the chapeau of Article XX.
The DSB adopted the Appellate Body report and the Panel report, as modified by the Appellate Body report, on 6 November 1998.
On the grounds that the United States had not implemented appropriately the recommendations of the DSB, on 12 October 2000, Malaysia requested that the matter be referred to the original panel pursuant to Article 21.5 of the DSU. In particular, Malaysia considered that by not lifting the import prohibition and not taking the necessary measures to allow the importation of certain shrimp and shrimp products in an unrestrictive manner, the United States had failed to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB. At its meeting of 23 October 2000, the DSB referred the matter to the original panel pursuant to Article 21.5 DSU. Australia, Canada, the European Communities, Ecuador, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Thailand and Hong Kong, China reserved their third-party rights. On 8 November 2000, the compliance panel was composed.
The compliance panel circulated its report on 15 June 2001. The compliance panel concluded that:
- the measure adopted by the United States in order to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB violated Article XI:1 of the GATT 1994;
- in light of the recommendations and rulings of the DSB, Section 609 of Public Law 101-162, as implemented by the Revised Guidelines of 8 July 1999 and as applied so far by the US authorities, was justified under Article XX of the GATT 1994 as long as the conditions stated in the findings of this Report, in particular the ongoing serious good faith efforts to reach a multilateral agreement, remain satisfied.
- should any one of the conditions referred to above cease to be met in the future, the recommendations of the DSB may no longer be complied with. In such a case, any complaining party in the original case may be entitled to have further recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU.
On 23 July 2001, Malaysia notified the DSB its intention to appeal the compliance panel report. In particular, Malaysia sought review by the Appellate Body of the compliance panel’s finding that the US measure at issue does not constitute unjustifiable or arbitrary discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail and that it is therefore within the scope of the measures permitted under Article XX of the GATT 1994 as long as the conditions stated in the findings of the compliance panel report, in particular the ongoing serious good faith efforts to reach a multilateral agreement, remain satisfied.
On 19 September 2001, the Chairman of the Appellate Body informed the DSB that it would not be able to circulate its report within 60 days. It was estimated that the Appellate Body report would be circulated no later than 22 October 2001.
The Appellate Body report was circulated to the Members on 22 October 2001. The Appellate Body upheld the contested findings of the compliance panel. Since it had upheld the panel’s findings that the US measure was now applied in a manner that met the requirements of Article XX of the GATT 1994, the Appellate Body refrained from making any recommendations. On 21 November 2001, the DSB adopted the Appellate Body report and the compliance panel report, as upheld by the Appellate Body report.
Implementation of adopted reports
At the DSB meeting on the adoption of the Appellate Body report and the compliance panel report, as upheld by the Appellate Body on 21 November 2001, the United States stated that was pleased that both the Article 21.5 panel and the Appellate Body had found that the United States had implemented the DSB's recommendations and rulings insofar as it had found that the US compliance measure was justified as a conservation measure under Article XX(g) of the GATT 1994 and that the United States had rectified the prior measure's discriminatory aspects.
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