Australia and WTO Dispute Settlement Bulletin
Mexico: Tax Measures on Soft Drinks and Other Beverages (WT/DS308)
The US made their first request to establish a Panel in this dispute on 22 June, which Mexico rejected. A Panel was established on 6 July, with the EC, Canada, China, Japan and Pakistan joining as Third Parties. The US is concerned with certain tax measures imposed by Mexico on beverages and syrups, including soft drinks. Mexico's tax measures applied a 20% tax on beverages and syrups made with any other sweetener than cane sugar. The US claims that this discriminates against imported sweeteners including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which are 'like' products and directly competitive or substitutable with Mexican cane sugar. The US considered Mexico's tax measures to be inconsistent with GATT Article III:2 and III:4.
US: Determination of the International Trade Commission in Hard Red Spring Wheat from Canada (WT/DS310)
Canada made its first request to establish a Panel in this dispute on 22 June. Canada considers that the US has violated its obligations under the Anti-Dumping Agreement and the Subsidies Agreement as well as GATT 1994. They argue that the US failed to: base its injury determination on positive evidence; conduct an objective examination of the volume of dumped imports and subsidised imports and the effect of those imports on prices in the domestic market for like products; and conduct an objective examination of the consequent impact of those imports on domestic producers of such products. The US also failed to: demonstrate a causal relationship between the dumped and subsidised imports which were injuring the domestic industry. The US rejected this request, noting the extensive evidence supporting the determination by the International Trade Commission.
Proposed amendments to the working procedures for Appellate Review
On 8 April, the Chairman of the Appellate Body sent a letter to the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) Chairman suggesting a series of amendments to the working procedures for Appellate Review. The proposed amendments were initially considered at the DSB meeting on 28 May and again on 7 June. The deadline for comments from Members was extended to 11 June, these comments together with the Minutes from the 19 May meeting of the DSB were passed to the Appellate Body on 15 June. The letter and text of proposed amendments are available on the WTO website (document reference number: WT/AB/WP/8). Also available on the WTO website is the Appellate Body's first annual report.
Negotiations on the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU Review)
On 28 May, in a meeting of the Special Session of the Dispute Settlement Body, delegations agreed to extend negotiations on the DSU Review beyond the 31 May 2004 deadline for completion. No definite deadline for the negotiations has been set. The Chairman of the DSB Special Session, Australia's Ambassador to the WTO David Spencer, reported this outcome to Trade Negotiations Committee on 21 June and suggested that appropriate action be taken by either the TNC or the General Council for the continuation of the review process in Special Session.
Australia as a Complainant
United States: Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 (the "Byrd Amendment") (WT/DS217 and WT/DS234)
No new developments. The arbitration proceeding which will determine the level of retaliation permitted against the United States was held in April. The arbitrator's award is expected shortly but a date has not yet been advised. Eight of the eleven complainants in this dispute (not including Australia) requested authorisation to retaliate against the US in January. Australia, Thailand and Indonesia have agreed to allow the US until 27 December 2004 to comply with the Panel and Appellate Body rulings.
European Communities: Protection of Trademarks and Geographical Indications for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs (WT/DS290)
The first hearing of the Panel was held in Geneva on 23 and 24 June and the second will be held in Geneva on 11 and 12 August. This dispute involves complaints by Australia and the United States with regard to the WTO consistency of the EC regime for the protection of geographical indications for foodstuffs and agricultural products in the EC. The Panel is expected to report on this dispute late in 2004. See relevant Australian submissions to the Panel, including Australia's statement at the first oral hearing.
European Communities: Export Subsidies on Sugar (WT/DS/265)
The second oral hearing before the Panel in Geneva concluded on 11 and 12 May. See Australia's responses to questions from the Panel and the EC, along with Australia's rebuttal submission and oral statements. The Panel is scheduled to report towards the end of 2004.
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.
Selected disputes that have involved Australia as a Third Party
Canada: Measures Relating to Exports of Wheat (WT/DS276)
No new developments. The US has appealed the Panel's decision in this dispute. The Panel found that the United States was successful with regard to its claims concerning the treatment of imported grain, but unsuccessful in its complaint concerning the activities of the Canadian Wheat Board. See Australia's third party submission in this dispute. The Panel's report is available on the WTO website.
European Communities: Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products (WT/DS291, 292 and 293)
No new developments. The first oral hearings in this dispute were held in Geneva on 2 and 3 June. The Panel will consider 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. See Australia's oral statement as a third party to the dispute.
United States: Subsidies on Upland Cotton (WT/DS267)
The final Panel Report was released to the Parties, Brazil and the US, on 18 June. Media reporting suggests that the Panel ruled in Brazil's favour in this dispute. The Panel's report will be released to Third Parties and the public once it has been translated, this is expected to take between 30 and 90 days. This dispute concerns a challenge by Brazil with regard to US cotton subsidies. The US has already indicated that it will appeal the panel ruling to the Appellate Body. Australia is one of thirteen third parties. See Australia's submissions to the Panel.
European Communities: Measures Affecting Meat and Meat Products (Hormones) (WT/DS26)
No new developments. 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: Tax Treatment for "Foreign Sales Corporations" (WT/DS108)
No new developments. The EC's programme of countermeasures 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 of 1% up to a ceiling of 17% to be attained on 1 March 2005 if the US has not complied with its WTO obligations before then.
Japan: Measures Affecting the Importation of Apples (WT/DS245)
No new developments. Japan and the United States have agreed that the "reasonable period of time" for implementation of the recommendations and rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body will expire on 30 June 2004. The Panel and Appellate Body reports in this dispute were adopted on 10 December 2003.
Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body
DSB Meetings - 20 July 2004
The next meeting of the DSB will be held on 20 July 2004.
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2 This publication is intended to provide a general update and the information within it should not be relied on as complete or definitive.