Summary of Australia's involvement in disputes currently before the World Trade Organization.

Updated 25 January, 2010

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:

* 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 complied 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.

Australia lodged its first written submission in Geneva on 18 July 2008, in response to New Zealand's complainant submission.

Both Parties participated in the first Panel hearing in Geneva on 2-3 September 2008.

On 19 December 2008, Australia and New Zealand jointly advised the Panel that New Zealand would no longer pursue its claim against one of the measures at issue, based on Australia's advice that it does not impose such a measure. See: Joint letter to the Panel. (also available in pdf).

In the first quarter of 2009, the Panel consulted independent experts on the scientific and technical issues in this dispute, and both Parties commented on the experts' replies.

Australia then lodged its rebuttal submission with the Panel on 21 April 2009.

The meeting with the experts and the second oral hearing took place in Geneva on 30 June - 2 July 2009.

On 20 January 2010, the Panel advised the Parties that the finalisation of its report would be further delayed by around two months, and that it now expected to issue the final report to the Parties in May 2010.

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.

Philippines – Taxes on Distilled Spirits (DS396)

On 19 January 2010 the DSB established a panel to examine the European Union’s complaint (DS396) concerning the Philippines' current Excise Tax regime on distilled spirits, which has been in place since 1997. Australia has joined the dispute as a third party along with China, Chinese Taipei, Mexico, Thailand and the United States.

China - Grants, Loans and Other Incentives (DS387, DS388, DS390)

This dispute was resolved by agreement in mid-December 2009

The United States submitted a request for consultations on 19 December 2008 (circulated to WTO Members on 7 January 2009) in relation to certain Chinese (so called “Famous Brands”) measures offering grants, loans, and other incentives to enterprises in China (DS387). The United States contended that these measures appear to be inconsistent with the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the Agreement on Agriculture, China's Accession Protocol and GATT 1994 commitments. Mexico requested parallel consultations on 19 December 2008 (circulated on 8 January 2009) on these Chinese measures (DS388). On 19 January 2009 (circulated on 22 January 2009), Guatemala similarly requested consultations with China (DS390).

China agreed to the participation of third parties (Australia, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, the European Communities, Guatemala, New Zealand and Turkey) in the consultations.

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. The report of the Panel was circulated on 12 August 2009. China and the United States notified the DSB of their intention to appeal the report of the Panel (on 22 September and 5 October respectively). The DSB adopted the reports of the Appellate Body and Panel on 19 January 2010.

European Communities - Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (Hormones): Recourse to Article 21.5 by the European Communities (DS26, DS48)

On 8 January 2009, the European Communities requested consultations with the United States and Canada (DS26 and DS48 respectively) under Article 21.5 of the DSU. This phase of the dispute concerns whether the European Communities has complied with the Panel and Appellate Body rulings in the original EC - Hormones dispute (1998), in which its ban on hormone-treated beef was found to be inconsistent with various provisions of the SPS Agreement. Australia's request to join the consultations as a third party was accepted, and consultations took place on 10 February 2009 but failed to resolve the dispute. To date, none of the Parties have requested the establishment of a panel.

At the regular meeting of the DSB on 19 June 2009 and 23 October, Australia made a statement on the European Communities' new tariff rate quota (TRQ) for high quality beef. This TRQ was established as part of an understanding to reduce the level of sanctions in the ongoing Hormones dispute between the EC and the United States. On 20 January 2010, Australia was granted access to this quota.

For more information see:

» Australia's statement to the DSB, 19 June 2009 [ PDF 47 Kb ]

» Australia’s statement to the DSB, 23 October 2009 [ PDF 42 Kb ]

European Communities - Certain Measures Affecting Poultry Meat and Poultry Meat Products from the United States (DS389)

On 20 January 2009, the United States requested consultations with the European Communities in respect of its prohibition on the import of poultry treated with certain pathogen reduction treatments (PRTs) designed to reduce the amount of microbes on meat. Australia's request to join the consultations as a third party was accepted, and consultations took place on 11 February 2009 but failed to resolve the dispute. A panel was established in November 2009. Australia has joined this dispute as a third party.

United States - Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products (DS381)

On 24 October 2008, Mexico requested consultations with the United States in relation to certain measures taken by the latter concerning the importation, marketing and sale of tuna and tuna products. The consultations, to which Australia was a third party, failed to resolve the dispute. At its meeting on 20 April 2009, the DSB established a panel. Australia joined the dispute as a third party along with Argentina, China, Ecuador, the European Communities, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and Turkey. Brazil, Canada, Thailand and Venezuela subsequently reserved their third-party rights. On 14 December 2009, the Director-General composed the panel.

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 has joined the dispute as a third party along with Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, India, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. The Panel conducted its first meeting with the parties between 12-14 May 2009, and the second meeting on 9 July 2009. Australia delivered an oral statement at the third party session on 13 May 2009. The Panel expects to complete its work in the first half of 2010.

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 in April 2010.

Thailand - Customs and Fiscal Measures on Cigarettes from the Philippines (DS371)

A panel was established on 17 November 2008 and later composed on 16 February 2009 to consider Thai customs duties and other fiscal measures imposed on imported Philippine cigarettes. Australia joined the dispute as a third party on the basis of systemic legal interests in the matters at issue. Australia is a third party along with the European Communities, Chinese Taipei, the United States, China and India. The first meeting with the parties and the Panel was held on 10-12 June 2009 and Australia delivered an oral statement at the third party session on 11 June.

US – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements (DS384 & DS386)

At the request of Canada (DS384) and Mexico (DS386), a panel was established at the meeting of the DSB on 19 November 2009 concerning United States regulations requiring the mandatory country of origin labelling of certain ‘covered’ agricultural products. Covered commodities are beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat meat, perishable agricultural commodities, peanuts, pecans, ginseng and macadamia nuts. Of interest, the parties to the dispute have requested that the panel proceedings be open to the public.

Australia has joined the dispute as a third party on the basis of commercial and systemic legal interests. Argentina, China, Colombia, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Peru have also joined as third parties.

US - Definitive Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties on Certain Products from China (DS379)

On 19 September 2008, China requested consultations with the United States regarding the anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the United States. Consultations were held on 14 November 2008 but failed to resolve the dispute. On 12 December 2008, China requested that a panel be established to examine the matter. A panel was established following China's second request on 20 January 2009. China contends that the US measures are inconsistent with the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the Anti-Dumping Agreement, China's Accession Protocol and GATT 1994 commitments of the United States. The Panel was composed on 4 March 2009.

Australia has joined as a third party along with Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, the European Communities, India, Kuwait, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Australia lodged its first written third-party submission in Geneva on 5 June 2009.

The first substantive meeting with the parties and third parties was held on 7-8 July 2009:

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 June 2010.

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. To date no request for panel composition has been made.

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)

At the regular meeting of the DSB on 19 January 2010, a panel was established at the second request of the European Union in the Philippines – Taxation of Distilled Spirits dispute (DS396).  A panel was also established at the second request of China in the United States – Measures Affecting Imports of Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tyres from China dispute (DS399). The Appellate Body and Panel reports in China – Measures Affecting Trading Rights and Distribution Services for Certain Publications and Audio-Visual Entertainment Products (DS363) were adopted

The next regular meeting of the DSB will be held on 18 February 2010.