Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin - April 2006

In this issue


Australia as a Complainant

There are no current disputes at panel or appellate body phase in which Australia is a complainant

Australia as a Respondent

Australia: Certain Measures Affecting the Importation of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (WT/DS270)
No new developments.  A panel was established in August 2003 at the request of the Philippines but has not yet been composed.
Australia: Certain Measures Affecting the Importation of Fresh Pineapple Fruit (WT/DS/271)

No new developments.  Consultations were held in November 2002 at the request of the Philippines, but no panel has been established.

Australia: Quarantine Regime for Imports (WT/DS287)

No new developments. A panel was established in November 2003 at the request of the European Communities but has not yet been composed.

Australia as a Third Party: Selected Disputes

turkey:  Measures Affecting the importation of rice (WT/DS334)

A panel was established on 17 March, at the United States' request, to examine the United States' complaint about Turkey's import restrictions on rice. The complaint concerns Turkey's rice import licensing arrangements and import quota system which require importers to purchase specified quantities of domestic rice in order to be permitted to import rice under tariff-rate quotas.

Australia, China, the EC, Korea and Thailand have reserved their rights to participate as third parties to this dispute.

European Communities:  Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products (WT/DS291, 292 and 293)

We understand that the panel's confidential interim report has been circulated to parties.  The parties have an opportunity to comment on this interim report before it is finalised. Australia, as a third party, will only be formally notified of the panel's findings when the final report is circulated to all WTO Members, which is expected by the end of September 2006.

United States/Canada: Continued Suspension of Obligations in the EC Hormones Dispute (WT/DS320 and WT/DS321)

Panels - established at the February 2005 DSB meeting at the request of the EC - continue to consider these two separate but related disputes.  On 20 January 2006, the Chairman of the panels informed the DSB that due to the complexity of the dispute and the matters involved, the panels would not be able to complete their work within 6 months. Based on this, we do not expect the final reports to be circulated to all WTO members until late 2006. 

In September 2005, parts of the panels' proceedings were open to observation by other WTO Members and the public, at the request of the parties to the dispute.  This was the first time that proceedings of a WTO panel have been open to the public.  The session for third party submissions to the panel remained closed, however, based on objections by some third parties.

The disputes relate to the WTO-consistency of the continued retaliation by the United States and Canada, despite European Communities claims of compliance with the findings in the EC - Hormones disputes.  Australia is a third party to both disputes.

European Communities: Selected Customs Matters (WT/DS315)

We understand that the panel circulated its final report to the principal parties in March 2006. The final report has not yet been circulated to other WTO members. The dispute relates to the United States' claims that the European Communities (EC's) customs law is applied in a non-uniform manner and that the EC does not maintain a forum for the prompt review and correction of administrative action relating to customs matters.  Australia is a third party to the dispute, as are Argentina, Brazil, China, Hong Kong - China, India, Japan, Korea, and Chinese Taipei.

European Communities and Certain Member States/United States:  Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS316 and WT/DS317)

The European Communities requested for the fourth time to have the fact-finding procedures under Annex V of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement initiated at the 21 April Dispute Settlement Body meeting.  Disagreement over procedural aspects, including on the Annex V proceeding, continued.  Annex V procedures have therefore not been initiated in this dispute.

On 21 April the US, for the first time, requested that a second panel be established to examine additional measures by the EC which it alleges provide subsidies that are inconsistent with the EC's obligations under the SCM Agreement and GATT 1994.  It sought to merge this panel with the original panel established in July 2005.  The EC rejected the request for merging the two panels and the US's first request for establishment of a panel. 

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and Korea are third parties to both disputes.

Brazil - Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres (WT/DS332)

A panel was established in January 2006 at the request of the European Communities, to examine the WTO-consistency of Brazilian measures relating to the import of retreaded tyres.  Brazil has indicated that it will seek to justify the measures on environmental and health grounds pursuant to GATT Article XX.  Australia has reserved its right to participate as a third party in this dispute, as have Argentina, Japan, Korea, the United States, China, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Chinese Taipei and Thailand.

Chile - Price Band System and Safeguard Measures Relating to Certain Agricultural Products -Recourse to Article 21.5 (WT/DS207)

A panel was established in January 2006 at the request of Argentina to examine the WTO-consistency of Chilean price band mechanisms applying to certain agricultural products, which replace mechanisms found previously to be WTO-inconsistent.  Australia has reserved its right to participate as a third party in this dispute, following participation as a third party at the original panel and Appellate Body stages of the dispute. Columbia, the European Communities, the United States, China, Brazil, Peru, Canada and Thailand also reserved their third party rights.

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)

DSB Regular Meeting - 21 April 2006
At the DSB regular meeting on 21 April, the US requested that a new panel be established and merged with the first panel in European Communities - Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS316/6), to examine whether certain measures of the EC were inconsistent with the SCM Agreement and GATT 1994. The EC rejected this request. In the related dispute, US - Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS317), the EC again requested that further procedures under Annex V of the SCM Agreement be initiated. The US again refused to allow this.

In EC - Protection of Trademarks and Geographical Indications for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs (WT/DS174 and DS290), the EC referred to its new Council Regulation on geographical indications and administrative procedures governing applications for and objections to proposed geographical indications by persons from other WTO Members. The EC claimed that these measures fully implemented the DSB's recommendations in this case. Australia and the US welcomed the actions taken by the EC, but expressed concern at an aspect of the new Regulation which appeared to exceed the EC's rights under the TRIPS Agreement. Australia and the US hoped that the EC would correct the relevant sections of the Regulation.

DSB Special Session Meeting - 24-25 April 2006
The DSB met in Special Session on 24 and 25 April to discuss further Member proposals in the ongoing DSU review negotiations.

Next DSB Meetings
The next regular DSB meetings will be held on 9 May and 17 May 2006.

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

The following reports were circulated recently, and are available on the WTO website.

United States - Laws, Regulations and Methodology for Calculating Dumping Margins ('Zeroing') (WT/DS294/AB/R), Report of the Appellate Body, circulated 18 April 2006.

United States - Investigation of the International Trade Commission in Softwood Lumber from Canada - Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Canada (WT/DS277/AB/RW), Report of the Appellate Body, circulated 13 April 2006.

United States - Final Dumping Determination on Softwood Lumber from Canada -Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Canada (WT/DS264/RW), Panel report, circulated 3 April 2006.

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