About this publication

Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
December 2005/January 2006

In this issue


The Honourable John Lockhart, AO QC

The WTO legal community learned the sad news of the death of Australian member of the WTO Appellate Body, Justice John Lockhart, in January. Mr David Spencer (former Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO and former Chair of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body) spoke warmly of Justice Lockhart, and his significant contribution to the Appellate Body, at a memorial service in Sydney in early February. Mr Bruce Gosper, Australia's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO, also paid tribute to Justice Lockhart - along with WTO Director General Lamy, and others - in a memorial service held in Geneva in January.

See: Media Release by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mr Vaile

Australia as a Complainant

There are no current disputes 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 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 but has not yet been composed.)

Australia as a Third Party: Selected Disputes

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. Australia, as a third party, will not receive a copy until the panel releases its final report, expected in the coming months.

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 . In September, part 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)

A panel, composed in May 2005, continues to examine 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)

Australia submitted responses to the questions posed to third-country Members as part of the f act-finding procedures under Annex V of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement. This proceeding was completed in December 2005 . However, the European Communities (EC) in January 2006 requested a panel and the initiation of further Annex V procedures to address the information deficiencies by the United States in the Annex V proceeding established in July 2005. This is intended to resolve a number of procedural concerns raised by the parties, including the scope of the programs covered by the panel request. The EC's complaint relates to United States subsidies to Boeing.

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 at the DSB's 20 January 2006 meeting 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 and the United States.

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

At the DSB's 20 January 2006 meeting, a panel was established 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 and the United States also reserved their third party rights.

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body

DSB Meeting - 20 December 2006

At its regular meeting on 20 December, the DSB adopted the Appellate Body and panel reports in the United States' successful challenge to Mexican anti-dumping measures on rice (WT/DS295) and in the implementation dispute that found lack of United States' compliance in United States - Countervailing Duties on Softwood Lumber from Canada (Article 21.5 panel, WT/DS277).

DSB Meeting - 20 January 2006

At the 20 January DSB Meeting, Panels were established in Brazil - Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres (WT/DS332) and Chile - Price Band System and Safeguard Measures Relating to Certain Agricultural Products -Recourse to Article 21.5 (WT/DS207). Australia reserved its right to participate as a third party in both disputes.

Next DSB Meetings

A regular DSB Meeting was held on Friday 17 February 2006. Outcomes from this meeting will be reported in our February 2006 bulletin.

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

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

United States - Final Countervailing Duty Determination with Respect to Certain Softwood Lumber from Canada - Recourse by Canada to Article 21.5 of the DSU (WT/DS257/AB/RL), circulated 5 December 2006.

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