Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
January-February 2007

In this issue


Australia as a Complainant

There are no current disputes at panel or appellate body phase in which Australia is a complainant although in some instances, there is disagreement whether implementation is completed.

European Communities: Export Subsidies on Sugar (WT/DS265/AB/R)

On 8 June 2006, Australia and the European Communities (EC) notified the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of an understanding reached by the two parties on the dispute. Given the disagreement between Australia and the EC as to whether the EC had fully implemented the recommendations and rulings of the DSB within the reasonable period of time, the agreement sets out the procedural steps to be taken by the parties in the event that compliance proceedings are instituted under Article 21.5 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). Brazil and Thailand, the other parties to the dispute, also entered into similar agreements with the European Communities.

The EC was required to implement the recommendations and rulings of the DSB by 22 May 2006 – the reasonable period of time for implementation as determined by an arbitrator under Article 21.3(c) of the DSU. The Appellate Body and Panel Reports in this dispute were adopted by the DSB in May 2005. The Appellate Body upheld Australia's (and Brazil's and Thailand's) challenge to the EC’s sugar export subsidies, ruling that all EC sugar exports were subsidised and that the EC was not entitled to exclude any of those quantities nor any budgetary outlays on export subsidies from its WTO-scheduled export subsidy commitments. As a result of the dispute, EC is required to reduce its subsidised exports of sugar to its WTO-scheduled limits of 1.273 million tonnes a year and its annual expenditure on sugar export subsidies to 499.1 million Euros.

See: Understanding between Australia and the European Communities on European Communities – Export Subsidies on Sugar (WT/DS265/36) [ PDF ]

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 at the request of the Philippines 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 at the request of the European Communities but has not yet been composed.

Australia as a Third Party: Selected Disputes

Turkey:  Measures Affecting the importation of rice (WT/DS334)

No new developments. Australia made an oral statement to the Panel at the third party hearing on 9 November 2006.

See: Oral Statement by Australia to the Panel [ PDF ]

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

The final Panel report was publicly released on 29 September 2006 and was adopted at the DSB regular meeting on 21 November. At the DSB meeting on 19 December 2006, the EC announced its intention to implement the ruling in a manner consistent with its WTO obligations. However, the EC indicated that it would need a reasonable period of time for implementation as envisaged by Article 21.3(b) of the DSU.

United States/Canada: Continued Suspension of Obligations in the EC Hormones Dispute (WT/DS320 and WT/DS321)

No new developments. At the request of the parties in the disputes, the Panels opened their proceedings with the parties and scientific experts on 27-28 September and with the parties on 2-3 October for observation by WTO Members and the general public.

European Communities: Selected Customs Matters (WT/DS315)

No new developments. The Appellate Body report was issued on 13 November and is available on the WTO website [ PDF ]

See: Oral statement by Australia to the Appellate Body [ PDF ]

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

No new developments. On 28 September 2006, the Disputes Settlement Body (DSB) granted Brazil's request for the establishment of an Article 21.5 panel to determine the existence or consistency of measures taken by the United States to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB in this dispute.  See: September Bulletin.

Australia lodged its third party written submission on 5 January.  Oral hearings took place on 27-28 February. 

See: Oral statements by Australia to the Panel and Appellate Body

China : Measures Affecting Imports of Automobile Parts (WT/DS339, DS340 and DS342)

No new developments. At the request of the EC, the US and Canada, a single panel was established at the 26 October 2006 Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) meeting.  Australia along with Mexico, Japan, Chinese Taipei and Argentina joined as third parties. See: October Bulletin.

European Communities and Certain Member States/United States:  Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS316 and WT/DS317)

The panels examining EC (DS316) and US (DS317) measures are continuing their work. The second proceedings that had arisen as part of US (DS317) has now been renumbered and constitutes a separate dispute, numbered WT/DS353 - see item below.

The Panel in DS316 has issued a revised timetable following suspension of the second Panel (WT/DS347 - the work of this panel remains suspended) - see item below. 

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and Korea have reserved their third party rights in both disputes.

European Communities and Certain Member States: Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (Second Complaint) (WT/DS347)

No new developments. The second panel requested by the United States to examine additional EC measures was established on 9 May 2006 (see May 2006 Bulletin).  The Panel was composed on 17 July 2006 and an organizational timetable was agreed between the parties.  On 6 October 2006 the United States requested the Panel to suspend its work, in accordance with Article 12.12 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). The Panel agreed to this request

United States:  Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (Second Complaint) (WT/DS353)

This case arose from the proceedings in DS317 - see item above. During the proceedings before the Panel in DS317, the US claimed that certain matters which formed part of the Panel request by the EC had not been the subject of consultations. The EC therefore issued a further request for consultations to the US on 1 July 2005, and made a formal request for the establishment of a Panel on 23 January 2006. On 4 and 8 December 2006 the DSB renamed and renumbered these proceedings as DS353.

Brazil – Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres (WT/DS332)

No new developments. Australia made a brief third party oral statement to the Panel in July 2006 - see July 2006 Bulletin. The Panel’s report is expected by mid-2007.

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

The Panel report was issued on 8 December 2006 and is available on the WTO website. The Appellate Body is scheduled to hear an appeal by Chile concerning the Panel’s findings in March 2007.

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)

At the DSB meeting on 23 January a panel was established in the Mexico-Countervailing Measures on Olive Oil from the EC as a result of a request from the EC. The US, Canada, China and Norway joined as third parties. The DSB also adopted the Appellate Body Report in United States - Measures Relating to Zeroing and Sunset Reviews (WT/DS322/AB/R).  At the DSB meeting on 20 February the Panel Report in the US-Anti-dumping measures on Shrimp from Ecuador (DS335) was adopted.

Next DSB Meetings

The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled to take place on 20 March 2007.

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

WTO Dispute Settlement: One-Page Case Summaries

On 16 January 2007 the WTO published the first edition of “WTO Dispute Settlement: One-Page Case Summaries”. Prepared by the WTO’s Legal Affairs Division, the publication summaries the key facts and findings of the panel and, where applicable, Appellate Body reports for each of the 103 cases adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body during the period 1995 — 1 September 2006. The publication can be downloaded from the WTO website.

WTO chairpersons for 2007

On 7 February, the WTO General Council noted the consensus on the slate of names of chairpersons for WTO Bodies. HE Ambassador Bruce Gosper, Australia’s Permanent Representative to the WTO, was appointed as the Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body. The full slate of Chairpersons can be viewed on the WTO website.

Publication : Ten Years of WTO Dispute Settlement: Australian Perspectives - Released - February 2007

This publication, produced by the Department's WTO Trade Law Branch, marks ten years of the WTO's Dispute Settlement system. It is a diverse collection of Australian perspectives on WTO dispute settlement from those who have been exposed to the system - including in government, industry, academia and legal practise.  Download a copy or email wto.disputes@dfat.gov.au to request a hard copy or CD-ROM version.

The following reports were circulated in January/February:

United States — Measures Relating to Zeroing and Sunset Reviews (WT/DS322/AB/R), Appellate Body Report, issued 9 January 2007. The full report is available on the WTO website.

United States — Anti-dumping measure on shrimp from Ecuador (DS/D335), Panel Report, issued 30 January 2007. The full report is available on the WTO website.

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