DS: Japan — Measures Affecting Agricultural Products

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

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Complaint by the United States.

On 7 April 1997, the US requested consultations with Japan in respect of the latter’s prohibition, under quarantine measures, of imports of certain agricultural products. The US alleged that Japan prohibits the importation of each variety of a product requiring quarantine treatment until the quarantine treatment has been tested for that variety, even if the treatment has proved to be effective for other varieties of the same product. The US alleged violations of Articles 2, 5 and 8 of the SPS Agreement, Article XI of GATT 1994, and Article 4 of the Agreement on Agriculture. In addition, the US made a claim for nullification and impairment of benefits.

On 3 October 1997, the US requested the establishment of a panel. At its meeting on 16 October 1997, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.


Panel and Appellate Body proceedings

Further to a second request to establish a panel by the US, the DSB established a panel at its meeting on 18 November 1997. The EC, Hungary and Brazil reserved their third-party rights. The report of the Panel was circulated to Members on 27 October 1998. The Panel found that Japan acted inconsistently with Articles 2.2 and 5.6 of the SPS Agreement, and Annex B and, consequently, Article 7 of the SPS Agreement.

On 24 November 1998, Japan notified its intention to appeal certain issues of law and legal interpretations developed by the Panel. The report of the Appellate Body was circulated to Members on 22 February 1999. The Appellate Body upheld the basic finding that Japan’s varietal testing of apples, cherries, nectarines and walnuts is inconsistent with the requirements of the SPS Agreement.

The DSB adopted the Appellate Body Report and the Panel Report, as modified by the Appellate Body Report, on 19 March 1999.


Implementation of adopted reports

Pursuant to Article 21.3 of the DSU, Japan informed the DSB on 13 April 1999 that it was studying ways in which to implement the recommendations of the DSB. In a joint communication, the two parties informed the DSB, on 15 June 1999, that they had agreed on an implementation period of 9 months and 12 days from the date of adoption of the reports, i.e. from 19 March to 31 December 1999.

On 31 December 1999, Japan abolished the varietal testing requirement as well as the “Experimental Guide” in accordance with the DSB’s rulings. At the DSB meeting on 14 January 2000, Japan also stated that it was conducting consultations with the US regarding a new quarantine methodology for those products subject to import prohibitions because they were hosts of codling moth. At the DSB meeting on 24 February 2000, Japan noted that it expected to reach a mutually satisfactory solution with the US regarding a new quarantine methodology.

On 23 August 2001, Japan and the US notified to the DSB that they had reached a mutually satisfactory solution with respect to conditions for lifting import prohibitions on the fruits and nuts at issue in the dispute.


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