Australia's Involvement in Current WTO Disputes
Summary of Australia's involvement in disputes currently before the World Trade Organization. Updated 9 December 2008.
Australia as a defending party (respondent)
Australia - Measures Affecting the Importation of Apples from New Zealand (DS367)
New Zealand requested consultations with Australia on 31 August 2007 in relation to Australia’s measures affecting the importation of apples from New Zealand. Consultations were held on 4 October 2007. The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) established a panel on 21 January 2008 at New Zealand’s request. In its statements to the DSB, Australia reiterated its position that its measures are WTO-consistent and indicated its preference to resolve the dispute bilaterally.
On 12 March 2008, the Panel was composed of the following three individuals: Mr Attie Swart (Chair), Mr William Ehlers and Ms Kirsten Hillman. Key dates in the panel process include:
- New Zealand’s first written submission: 20 June 2008
- Australia’s first written submission: 18 July 2008
- First Panel hearing: 2-3 September 2008 (Geneva)
- Second Panel hearing: 28-30 April 2009 (Geneva)
- Issue of the Panel’s final report to parties: September 2009*
*(official circulation of the panel’s final report to the WTO Membership and general public will occur following its translation into the WTO official languages)
Upon composition of the panel, Australia submitted a request for the Panel to make a preliminary ruling as to whether New Zealand's panel request complies with the requirements of Article 6.2 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). The Panel issued its preliminary ruling to the parties on 6 June 2008.
See: Australia’s request for a preliminary ruling in
[ PDF ]
See: Australia’s further submission on its request for a preliminary ruling (word) (rtf) [ PDF ]
See: Australia’s response to the submissions of third parties in relation to Australia’s request for a preliminary ruling (word) (rtf) [ PDF ]
See: Preliminary ruling of the Panel
Australia participated in the first panel hearing in Geneva on 2-3 September 2008.
See: Australia’s opening statement in the first panel hearing
See: Executive summary of Australia’s opening statement in the first panel hearing in DS367
See: Australia’s closing statement in the first panel hearing in DS367
See: Executive summary of Australia’s closing statement in the first panel hearing in DS367
The next stage in the dispute process will involve the Panel consulting independent experts on the scientific and technical issues involved. Australia is then required to file a rebuttal submission in March 2009. It is expected that the second Panel hearing in Geneva will be open to the public.
Australia - Certain Measures Affecting the Importation of Fresh Pineapple Fruit (DS271)
The Philippines' request for consultations was received on 18 October 2002, and consultations were held in November 2002. However, the Philippines has not moved to the next procedural stage of requesting the establishment of a panel.
Australia - Certain Measures Affecting the Importation of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (DS270)
A panel was established on 29 August 2003 at the request of the Philippines, however the dispute has not moved to the next procedural stage of the appointment of panellists.
Australia as a Third Party
Australia often joins disputes as a third party when it has commercial and/or legal interests in the matters in question. This provides an opportunity to present our views to the panel or Appellate Body.
China - Measures Affecting Trading Rights and Distribution Services for Certain Publications and Audiovisual Entertainment Products (DS363)
On 27 November 2007 the DSB established a panel to examine a complaint by the United States concerning trading rights and distribution services for publications, sound recordings and audiovisual products in China. Australia has joined the dispute as a third party because of commercial and systemic interests in the matter at issue, together with Chinese Taipei, the European Communities, Japan, and Korea. Australia, the EC, Japan and Korea made oral statements to the Panel on 23 July 2008. Australia submitted responses to questions from the Panel on 11 August 2008.
Release by the Minister for Trade on DS363
See: Australia’s Third Party Oral Statement in DS363 [ PDF ] (word) (rtf)
See: Australia’s response to questions from the Panel in DS363
China - Measures Affecting the Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (DS362)
On 25 September 2007, a panel was established to examine the complaint by the United States regarding China's protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Australia has joined as a third party, as have Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, the European Communities, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey. Third parties, including Australia, submitted written submissions on 26 March 2008. Australia delivered an oral statement at the third party hearing on 15 April 2008.
See: Australia's third party submission in DS362
[ PDF ]
See: Australia's third party oral statement in DS362
See: Australia's Responses to Questions from the Panel in DS362 [ PDF ] (word) (rtf)
China - Measures Affecting Imports of Automobile Parts (DS339, DS340 and DS342)
On 26 October 2006, the DSB established a panel to examine the complaints by the European Communities, the United States and Canada concerning China’s measures affecting the import of automobile parts. Argentina, Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Mexico joined as third parties.
The Panel released its report on 18 July 2008 and found that charges applied by China on the imports of automobile parts were an internal measure inconsistent with China’s national treatment obligations under Article III of the GATT 1994. The Panel also found that the charge was a customs duty in excess of that provided for in China’s Schedule of Concessions inconsistent with Article II of the GATT 1994. The Panel’s report can be found at the WTO website.
China has lodged an appeal against the Panel’s findings, which is currently being considered by the Appellate Body. Australia lodged its third party written submission on 10 October 2008. The Appellate Body’s report will likely be issued in early 2009.
European Communities – Tariff Treatment of Certain Information Technology Products (DS375, DS376 & DS377)
On 23 September 2008 the DSB established a panel to examine the complaints of the United States, Japan and Chinese Taipei (DS375, DS376 & DS377 respectively) concerning the tariff treatment of flat panel displays, set-top boxes with a communication function and multifunctional digital machines. Australia joined the dispute as a third party on 2 October 2008. The dispute timetable will be determined following panel composition.
European Communities and Certain Member States/United States - Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (DS316)
The United States submitted a request for consultations on 6 October 2004 in relation to European Communities’ and Member State subsidies to the European large civil aircraft sector, which the United States contends are inconsistent with the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and GATT 1994 commitments. A panel was established on 20 July 2005. Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and Korea reserved their third party rights. Australia lodged a written submission with the Panel on 7 May 2007 and delivered an oral statement to the Panel at the third party hearing on 24 July 2007. The Panel is expected to complete its report by the end of 2008.
India - Additional and Extra-Additional Duties on Imports from the United States (DS360)
On 6 March 2007 the United States requested consultations with India in relation to additional duties and charges applied by India to imports of United States’ wines and distilled products. The panel hearing took place on 17-19 September 2007, to which Australia made a written and oral submission. The report of the Panel was issued on 9 June 2008 and found that the United States had failed to establish that India’s additional duties and charges on alcoholic liquor were inconsistent with Article II:1(a) or (b) of the GATT 1994. The United States informed the DSB of its decision to appeal the report of the Panel on 1 August 2008. Australia provided a third participant submission to the Appellate Body on 26 August 2008 and an oral statement at the hearing on 4 September 2008 in Geneva. Other third participants are Chile, the European Communities, Japan and Vietnam. The Appellate Body issued its report on 30 October. The full text of the report is available on the WTO website. The Appellate Body ruling is significant in that it explores more thoroughly several key GATT Articles. These Articles (II and III) relate to the use of border charges (customs duties or other duties or charges) and the manner in which these charges may be offset against internal taxes.
See: Australia's third party submission in DS360 [ PDF ]
See: Australia’s third participant written submission in DS360
See: Australia’s third participant oral statement in the appellate proceedings in DS360
Thailand– Customs and Fiscal Measures on Cigarettes from the Philippines (DS371)
A panel was established on 17 November 2008 to consider Thai customs duties and other fiscal measures imposed on imported Philippine cigarettes. This is the first time a panel will consider a Member’s obligations under the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement. Australia has joined the dispute as a third party on the basis of systemic legal interests in the matters at issue.
United States - Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (Second Complaint) (DS353)
The European Communities requested consultations with the United States in June 2005 regarding subsidies provided to the United States large civil aircraft industry. A panel was established in February 2006. Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and Korea reserved their third party rights. Australia lodged a written submission with the Panel on 1 October 2007 and delivered an oral statement to the Panel at the third party hearing on 15 January 2008. The Panel is expected to complete its report in 2009.
United States - Domestic Support and Export Credit Guarantees for Agricultural Products (DS357 and DS365)
A single dispute panel was established by the DSB on 17 December 2007 in relation to Canada and Brazil’s dispute with the United States on domestic support for agricultural products. Australia has joined the dispute as a third party on the basis of systemic and commercial interests. Other third parties are Argentina, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, the European Communities, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, South Africa, and Thailand.
United States/Canada - Continued Suspension of Obligations in the EC Hormones Dispute (DS320 and DS321)
The European Communities requested consultations with the United States and Canada on 8 November 2004; asserting the United States and Canada had not removed retaliatory measures following the European Communities’ notification of its removal of WTO-inconsistent measures in the original European Communities - Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (Hormones) disputes (DS26 & DS48). Australia joined the disputes as a third party on 19 November 2004. Other third parties were Brazil, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, India, New Zealand, Norway and Mexico.
The Panel reports were released on 31 March 2008. Following appeals appeal by the United States, Canada and the European Communities, the Appellate Body issued its reports on 16 October 2008. The Appellate Body found that, where parties disagree on whether “the measure found to be inconsistent with a covered agreement has been removed”, recourse should be had to panel proceedings under Article 21.5 of the DSU. Such proceedings can be initiated by either the complaining or responding party. It therefore recommended that the Dispute Settlement Body request the parties to initiate 21.5 proceedings without delay. Pending the outcome of those proceedings, the retaliation imposed by the US and Canada remains in force.
The Appellate Body also made important findings on the interpretation of the SPS Agreement, including on the selection and use of experts and the appropriate standard of review.
For the full Appellate Body reports see the WTO webpage.
See: Australia's third party submission in DS320 [ PDF ]
See: Australia's third party submission in DS321 [ PDF ]
See: Australia's third participant written submission the appellate proceedings DS320 & DS321
See: Australia's third participant oral statement in the appellate proceedings DS320 & DS321
Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)
At a meeting of the DSB on 14 November, the DSB adopted the Panel and Appellate Body reports in the US & Canada-Continued Suspension disputes. The DSB Chair announced the upcoming resignation of Brazilian Appellate Body Member Luis Baptista, effective from February 2009.
At the regular meeting of the DSB on 17 November 2008, the DSB established a panel in the Thailand – Customs and Fiscal Measures on Cigarettes from the Philippines dispute, and the Panel and Appellate Body reports were adopted in the India – Additional and Extra-Additional Duties on Imports from the United States dispute.
The next regular meeting of the DSB will be held on 22 December 2008.
Read archived WTO dispute settlement bulletins and details of former disputes involving Australia. Note, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade no longer produces monthly WTO dispute settlement bulletins.