Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
February 2004

In this issue


Recent Developments

European Communities: Protection of Trademarks and Geographical Indications for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs (WT/DS290)

In response to a request from Australia and the US for the WTO Director-General to determine the composition of the Panel formally approved (“established”) in October 2003, Dr Supachai selected on 23 February the following panellists to hear this dispute: Mr Miguel Rodríguez Mendoza (Chairman), Mr Seung Wha Chang and Mr Peter Kam-fai Cheung. The Panel is expected to complete its consideration of this dispute late in 2004.

WTO Chairpersons for 2004

The WTO General Council at its 11 February meeting noted the consensus on the nominated Chairpersons for WTO Bodies, including those established under the Trade Negotiations Committee. Kenyan Ambassador Amina Mohamed will be the new Chairperson of the Dispute Settlement Body, replacing Ambassador Oshima. Australia’s Ambassador to the WTO, David Spencer, is the new Chairperson of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) Review negotiations.

Australia as a Complainant

United States: Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 (the “Byrd Amendment”) (WT/DS217 and WT/DS234)

In late January, eight of the eleven complainants in this dispute (not including Australia) requested authorisation to retaliate against the US. Owing to US objections as to the level of retaliation proposed, these requests have been referred to arbitration. The arbitrator’s decision is expected over the next couple of months. Australia has agreed to allow the US until 27 December 2004 to comply with the Panel and Appellate Body rulings.

European Communities (EC): Export Subsidies on Sugar (WT/DS/265)

Panel processes are now underway. The Panel is scheduled to report towards the end of 2004. See a summary of Australia’s first written submission (pdf - 228KB).

Australia as a Respondent

Australia: Certain Measures Affecting the Importation of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (WT/DS270)

No new developments.  A panel has been established but not yet 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 has been established but not yet composed.

Selected disputes that have involved Australia as a Third Party

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

In response to a request from the complainants in late February to determine the composition of the Panel, on 4 March the Director-General appointed the following panellists to hear this dispute: Mr Christian Häberli (Chairman), Mr Mohan Kumar and Mr Akio Shimizu. A panel was established in this dispute in August 2003 at the request of the United States, Canada and Argentina for an examination of the EC’s moratorium on the approval of genetically modified organisms and the marketing and import bans maintained by some EC states on genetically modified products.

Canada:  Measures Relating to Exports of Wheat (WT/DS276)

Media reporting suggests that the Panel issued its report to the parties in early February 2004. Public release of the report is expected in early April. 

See Australia’s third party submission in this dispute.

United States:  Subsidies on Upland Cotton (WT/DS267)

The panel report is expected to be issued mid 2004.

See Australia’s third party submissions to the Panel.

Mexico: Measures Affecting Telecommunications Services (WT/DS204)

The Panel expects to circulate its report shortly.  This dispute was brought by the United States, which alleges that Mexico has failed to implement its GATS commitments with regard to the supply of basic telecommunications services.

European Communities (EC):  Measures Affecting Meat and Meat Products (Hormones) (WT/DS26)

The US has indicated its intention to maintain the suspension of concessions on the basis that the EC has still not made its import prohibition regime WTO-consistent.  Canada has offered to consult with the EC on the matter, while also maintaining its suspension.

United States: Section 110(5) Copyright Act (“Homestyle”exemption) (WT/DS160)

No new developments.  A mutually satisfactory temporary agreement between the United States and the EC was notified to the DSB in June 2003. 

United States: Tax Treatment for “Foreign Sales Corporations”(WT/DS108)

The EC has adopted a scheme of countermeasures that entered into force on 1 March. These apply as additional customs duties on selected US products at an initial rate of 5%, to be followed by monthly increases up to a ceiling of 17% to be attained on 1 March 2005 if the US does not bring the FSC/ETI legislation into compliance with its WTO obligations.

Japan: Measures Affecting the Importation of Apples (WT/DS245)

Japan has indicated that it will implement the recommendations and will consult with the United States on the reasonable period of time to do so. The Panel and Appellate Body reports in this dispute were adopted on 10 December 2003.

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body

General DSB Meeting –17 February 

The DSB adopted the Appellate Body and Panel reports in US –Final Countervailing Duty Determination with respect to Certain Softwood Lumber Products from Canada (WT/DS257). Canada initiated this dispute in 2002, alleging that US-imposed countervailing duties against imports of Canadian softwood lumber were based on a WTO-inconsistent subsidy determination. The Appellate Body upheld some of the Panel’s findings, but reversed its finding on the “benefit”conferred by the subsidy.

Two panel requests were submitted at the 17 February meeting. The EC requested the establishment of a Panel to examine the calculation methodologies used by the US with regard to dumping margins –the so-called “zeroing”methodology (US –Laws, regulations and methodology for calculating dumping margins (WT/DS294)).  Korea requested the establishment of a Panel with regard to EC –Measures affecting trade in commercial vessels (WT/DS301), a complaint that focuses on the EC “Temporary Defence Mechanism”. Korea alleges that this mechanism amounts to both a unilateral determination of a violation of WTO obligations with regard to subsidies and a unilateral imposition of a punitive measure against Korea.  Both the US and EC respectively exercised their right to block these first panel requests.

Chile withdrew its request for consultations with regard to Mexico –Measures affecting the import of matches (WT/DS232). Handover to the new DSB Chairperson, Ambassador Mohamed, was postponed until the next regular DSB meeting, to be held on 19 March.


To subscribe please send an email to wto.disputes@dfat.gov.au with "subscribe" in the subject line and your contact details in the body of the email. If you want to be removed from the mailing list please send an email to wto.disputes@dfat.gov.au with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.      

This publication is intended to provide a general update and the information within it should not be relied on as complete or definitive.

[More bulletins]