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Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
February 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 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. The parties have an opportunity to comment on the interim report. Australia, as a third party, will formally receive a copy when the panel releases its final report, which is 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. 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, 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 parties 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 in relation to the additional consultations it requested in June 2005, 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 DSB established a panel on 17 February further to the EC's January 2006 request. The EC's complaint relates to United States subsidies to Boeing.

On 31 January 2006, the United States requested additional consultations in relation to its parallel complaint against the EC. The United States' complaint relates to EC subsidies to Airbus.

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 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 Meeting - 17 February 2006

At its regular meeting on 17 February, the DSB established a panel in United States: Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS317). Australia reserved its right to participate as a third party. The DSB outlined the procedure for appointing a new Appellate Body member to replace the late Hon John Lockhart. A selection committee was established, and is expected to consider nominations in the coming months. Malaysian Ambassador Muhammad Noor Yacob was elected as the new DSB Chair.

DSB Special Session Meeting - 22 February 2006

The DSB met in Special Session on 22 February to introduce the new DSB SS Chair, Costa Rican Ambassador Ronald Saborio. Former Australian Ambassador to the WTO David Spencer, who chaired the DSB Special Session from February 2004 until the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial meeting, was thanked for his contribution to this negotiation.

Next DSB Meetings

The next DSB meetings will be held on 14 and 17 March 2006. A DSB SS meeting will be held on 21/22 March 2006. The outcomes of these meetings will be reported in the March bulletin.

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

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

United States - Tax Treatment for "Foreign Sales Corporations" - Second Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by the European Communities (WT/DS108/AB/RW2), circulated 13 February 2006.

European Communities - Customs Classification of Frozen Boneless Chicken Cuts - ARB-2005-4/21 (WT/DS269/13 and WT/DS286/15), Arbitrator's Award, circulated 20 February 2006.

Mexico - Tax Measures on Soft Drinks and Other Beverages (WT/DS308/AB/R) Appellate Body Report, circulated 6 March 2006.

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