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Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
June 2005

In this issue


Australia as a Complainant

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

The Appellate Body and Panel Reports in this dispute were adopted by the DSB in May.  The Appellate Body upheld Australia’s (and Brazil’s and Thailand’s) challenge to the European Communities’ (EC) sugar export subsidies, ruling that, consistent with its WTO obligations on agricultural export subsidies, the EC must significantly limit its subsidised exports of sugar and reduce its annual expenditure on export subsidies.  Minister for Trade, Mr Vaile, welcomed the Appellate Body’s ruling, saying it would result in better conditions for Australia’s sugar industry, which depends on the world market for around 80 percent of its income.

Earlier, the Panel found in favour of the complainants, Australia, Brazil and Thailand, holding that the export subsidy schemes on sugar granted by the EC were in breach of the EC’s obligations for the reduction of such subsidies under the Agriculture Agreement.

See also:

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

Following adoption of the Panel Report in April, Australia and the United States (in respect of the parallel US challenge to the same European Communities (EC) measure) have agreed that the EC may have until 3 April 2006 to implement the Panel’s findings.

The dispute concerned the EC’s legislation for the protection of GIs for foodstuffs and agricultural products.  The Panel agreed with Australia (and the US) that the EC’s legislation is inconsistent with the EC’s WTO obligations.  The EC is now required to implement the rulings in this dispute.

See also:

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

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

The Panel’s Report on the United States’ recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU in this dispute was circulated on 23 June.

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

No new developments. 

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

Panels were established at the February DSB meeting at the request of the EC in these two separate but related disputes.  The disputes relate to the legitimacy 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 has joined both disputes as a third party.

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

An oral hearing into the dispute has been held, following composition of a panel in May.  This dispute relates to a request of the European Communities (in a second recourse to DSU Article 21.5) to examine the consistency of US measures replacing FSC export subsidy measures relating to agriculture and manufactured products previously found to be WTO inconsistent.  Australia has joined the dispute as a third party, as have Brazil and China. 

European Communities: Selected Customs Matters (WT/DS315)

A panel was composed in May to examine United States’ concerns that the European Communities 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 has joined the dispute as a third party, as have Argentina, Brazil, China, Hong Kong - China, India, Japan, Korea, and Chinese Taipei

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body

DSB Meeting: 20 June 2005

The DSB adopted the Panel Report in European Communities – Measures Affecting Trade in Commercial Vessels at its regular meeting on 20 June.  Egypt exercised its right to block Pakistan’s first request for a panel to examine Egypt’s anti-dumping duties on matches from Pakistan.  The process was commenced for the DSB to consider the reappointment of three Appellate Body Members whose terms expire in December 2005.

Special DSB Meeting: 1 June 2005

The DSB agreed to establish an Article 21.5 panel at Canada’s request to examine US implementation in the United States – Final Dumping Determination on Softwood Lumber dispute.  The parties have agreed that arbitration of a request by Canada for authorisation to suspend concessions against the United States be suspended until the Article 21.5 proceedings are completed.

Special DSB Meeting 13 June 2005

Panels were not established in the United States’ and European Communities’ parallel challenges to each other’s subsidies to large civil aircraft, as each Member exercised its right to block the other’s first panel request.  The European Communities confirmed its intention to implement the Panel’s findings in the European Communities – Export Subsidies on Sugar dispute.

The next regular DSB Meeting will be held on 20 July 2005.

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

The following reports were circulated in June, and are available on the WTO website:

United States – Countervailing Duty Investigation on Dynamic Random Access Memory Semiconductors (DRAMS) from Korea (WT/DS296/AB/R) – circulated 27 June

Japan – Measures Affecting Importation of Apples – Recourse to Article 21/5 of the DSU by the United States (WT/DS245/RW) - circulated 23 June

United States – Anti-Dumping Measures on Oil Country Tubular Goods (OTTB) from Mexico (WT/DS282/R) – circulated 20 June

European Communities – Countervailing Measures on Dynamic Random Access Memory Chips from Korea (WT/DS299) – circulated 17 June

Mexico – Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Beef and Rice – Complaint With Respect to Rice (WT/DS/295/R) – circulated 6 June

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