Australia and WTO Dispute Settlement

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Monthly Bulletin: February 2001

Australia as a Complainant

Korea: Measures affecting imports of fresh, chilled and frozen beef (WT/DS169)

At the 1 February 2001 meeting of the DSB, Korea confirmed its intentions to comply with DSB recommendations in the beef case, but indicated that it was examining its implementation options in relation to findings on the dual retail system. Korea also confirmed it will require a reasonable period of time for implementation and indicated its willingness to consult with Australia and the United States (the other complainant in this dispute) on this issue. Australia welcomed Korea's advice that it intends to implement the DSB recommendations and confirmed Australia's willingness to discuss with Korea issues relating to implementation and reasonable period of time. Australia's full statement is set out below. Korea, Australia and the US are currently engaged in consultations on a reasonable period of time.

United States: Safeguard measure on imports of fresh, chilled and frozen lamb meat (WT/DS177 and WT/DS178)

On 31 January 2001, the US appealed the Panel's findings against safeguard tariff measures imposed by the United States on Australian and New Zealand lamb exports. Australia, in response, lodged a cross-appeal on certain other findings of the Panel. Australia's appellee submission was lodged on 26 February. The Australian submissions are available on the DFAT website.  

The WTO Appellate Body will consider both appeals, with the hearing to be held in late March. The Appellate Body, in accordance with established procedures, will issue its report by 1 May 2001 (within 90 days of the initial notice of appeal).

United States: Continuing Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 (WT/DS217) (Joint consultation request)

Dispute settlement consultations with the US over the US trade remedy legislation that, inter alia, provides for dumping and subsidy offsets - the Byrd Amendment - were held on 5 February in Geneva. The US confirmed that it intends to proceed with implementation of the statute by the required date of 29 November 2001 and will defend the measure against any WTO action.

Disputes involving Australia as a Third Party

EC: Beef hormones (WT/DS26)

No new developments since last update.

United States: Restrictions on shrimps (the shrimp/turtle" case) (WT/DS58)

The Panel expects to issue to the parties its final report on the WTO consistency of the revised US measures in the second half of March.

Canada: Measures affecting the importation of milk and the exportation of dairy products (WT/DS103 and WT/DS113)

At the 1 February DSB meeting, the US and New Zealand challenged Canada's claim to have brought its regime into full compliance. On 16 February the US and New Zealand requested the establishment of an Article 21.5 compliance panel to review compliance by Canada. On the same day they both requested authorisation from the DSB to suspend the application to Canada of tariff concessions and related obligations under GATT 1994, each covering trade in the amount of US$35 million on an annual basis.

United States: "Homestyle" Copyright Legislation (WT/DS160)

No new developments since last update.

United States: Safeguard measures on wheat gluten (WT/DS166)

On 16 February the US confirmed that it intends to implement the DSB recommendations and rulings in a manner that respects WTO obligations and that it will require a reasonable period of time to do so.

United States: Measures treating export restraints as subsidies (WT/DS194)

No new developments since last update.

United States: Definitive safeguard measures on imports of circular welded carbon quality line pipe from Korea (WT/DS202)

No new developments since last update.

United States: Foreign Sales Corporations (FSC) taxation measures (WT/DS108)

Australia's third party submission to the Article 21.5 compliance panel reviewing the EC's challenge to the WTO consistency of the revised US FSC scheme was filed on 14 February. US FSC arrangements, which are available for exports to any destination, were found by the original panel to be prohibited export subsidies. FSC subsidies affect Australia's competitive trading opportunities in all markets. Australia's third party submission is available on the DFAT website at www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/disputes/wto_disputes-US_FSC-Art21-5.html.   

Brazil: Export financing program for aircraft (WT/DS46)

Canada successfully challenged certain export subsides under Brazil's PROEX scheme to foreign purchasers of Brazil's EMBRARER aircraft as prohibited subsidies. On 16 February an Article 21.5 compliance panel was established to examine the WTO consistency of Brazil's implementation measures relating to export finance programs for aircraft. Australia reserved its third party rights. Australia has a systemic interest in issues of implementation and compliance, particularly in regard to export finance, export subsidies and industry programs as well as procedural issues.

Disputes in which Australia has a Policy or Economic Interest

Japan: Varietal testing of horticultural products (WT/DS76)

At the 1 February DSB meeting Japan announced that following further consultations with the US all remaining technical issues had been basically resolved. However a further procedural administrative issue still needs to be worked out before Japan could notify the DSB of the actual results of the consultations. Australia registered its interest in obtaining details of the implementation outcome as soon as possible. The text of Australia's intervention is set out below.

EC: Bananas (WT/DS27)

The latest EC status report confirmed its intention to proceed with a rapid implementation of its first-come, first-served system described in the EC's report as the WTO-compatible new import regime.

EC: Measures on asbestos (WT/DS135)

No new developments since last update.

Brazil: Measures affecting patent protection (WT/DS199)

A panel was established on 1 February 2001.

United States: Section 129(c)(1) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (WT/DS221) (Consultation request)

On 31 January 2001 EC requested to join the consultations between Canada and the US concerning section 129(c)(1) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) and the Statement of Administrative Action accompanying the URAA.

European Communities: Tariff rate quota on corn gluten feed from the United States (WT/DS223) (Consultation request)

No new developments since last update.

Canada: Term of patent protection (WT/DS170)

On 20 February Canada introduced into parliament legislation to bring its Patent Act into compliance with its TRIPS obligations. The legislation follows an unsuccessful appeal by Canada of an earlier WTO ruling that Canada's 17 year term of protection for certain patents was TRIPS inconsistent. The proposed legislative amendments will extend the patent term of about 30 commercially significant brand-name drugs by an average of 6 months.

Australian nationals on WTO panels

Overall, eight Australian nationals have served as WTO panelists and 5 Australian experts have advised WTO panels. Last year two Australians were selected as current WTO panelists: Paul O'Connor is a panelist in the Article 21.5 compliance panel on Mexico: Anti-dumping investigation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from the US (WT/DS132), and Professor Jeffrey Waincymer was selected as a panelist on India: Measures affecting the automotive sector (WT/DS146 and WT/DS175).

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body: February 2001

The DSB, consisting of all the members of the WTO, met on 1 and 16 February 2001. There will be a special meeting of the DSB on 1 March to consider Canada: Measures affecting the importation of milk and milk products and the simultaneous US and New Zealand requests for recourse to an Article 21.5 implementation panel and DSB authorisation for suspension of concessions. The next regular DSB meeting will be held on 12 March 2001. Australia uses DSB meetings to monitor progress and to register its views on disputes of interest. The agendas of the February DSB meetings were as follows (any Australian interventions are indicated):

DSB Meeting 1 February 2001

1.      Surveillance of implementation of recommendations adopted by the DSB

I would just like to make a brief comment under this item. We are one of the delegations which the Japanese delegation acknowledge have a substantial interest in this item. We note that the reasonable period of time has now expired and we note from the status report just provided by Japan that there is an expectation that the agreed solution has been reached but there are some procedural matters that remain outstanding. As we are now at that stage, Mr. Chairman, we would certainly appreciate an elaboration by Japan of the main elements of its proposed implementation as soon as that is possible.

2. Implementation action

Australia's statement follows:

3. Statement by Brazil concerning implementation of DSB recommendations in Brazil: Export Financing (Aircraft Subsidies)

4.      Panel request - Brazil: Measures affecting patent protection

5.      Panel request -Belgium: Administration of measures establishing customs duties for rice

6.      Panel request - Chile: Price band system and safeguard measures

7.      Recourse to Article 21.5 by Canada - Brazil: Export Financing (Aircraft Subsidies)

8. Adoption of panel report - US: Safeguard measure on imports of fresh, chilled and frozen lamb meat

9. Adoption of panel report - US: Anti-dumping measures on stainless steel plates from Korea

10. Proposed nominations for the indicative list of governmental and non-governmental panelists

Special DSB Meeting 16 February 2001

1.      Statement by US - US: Definitive safeguard measures on imports of wheat gluten from the European Communities

2.      Article 21.5 panel request - Brazil: Export financing programming for aircraft

3.      Adoption of panel report - Argentina: Measures affecting the export of bovine hides and the import of finished leather

4.      Election of DSB chairperson for 2001 - New Zealand Ambassador Roger Farrell was elected chair of the DSB for 2001 by acclamation.

Managing WTO Disputes: Institutional Arrangements

The WTO Trade Law Branch in the Trade Negotiations Division takes the lead role in prosecuting and defending Australia's interests in WTO disputes. Assistance to exporters and industry groups on WTO issues is provided through the WTO Disputes Investigation and Enforcement Mechanism launched by Mr Vaile in 1999.

Under the Mechanism, any Australian exporter can seek Government support and assistance in circumstances where other WTO Member governments may not be honouring their obligations under the WTO Agreements. The Mechanism sets up a partnership between exporters and the Government to exercise Australia's WTO rights for the benefit of exporters, and Australia as a whole. Assistance via the Mechanism is available to all actual or would-be exporters whether as individual entities or as industry associations, no matter the exporter's size or the product specialisation. There is no pre-qualification level for access or any charge for use of the mechanism.

The WTO Trade Law Branch is also available to advise State and Territory Governments on the WTO aspects of State and Territory proposals or measures involving the use of trade or trade related actions.

Resources permitting, the WTO Trade Law Branch will consider requests to address business, community and educational groups with an interest in the WTO generally, the rights and obligations of WTO membership, the WTO's dispute settlement system and the WTO Disputes Investigation and Enforcement Mechanism.

For more information or for assistance, contact us at wto.disputes@dfat.gov.au.

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The Monthly Bulletin is an overview of Australian involvement in WTO Dispute Settlement from the WTO Trade Law Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade . It updates Australian involvement in specific WTO disputes and, more generally, in disputes in which Australia has a policy or economic interest. Also included are the agendas of meetings of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), with specific reference to any Australian interventions.

For more information and copies of previous issues, visit Australia and WTO dispute settlement.

For more general information relating to the Doha Round of Trade negotiations, see the WTO Doha Round Bulletin.