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Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
March 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 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)

A panel was established on 17 March, at the United States' request, to examine the United States' complaint about Turkey's import restrictions on rice. The complaint concerns Turkey's rice import licensing arrangements and import quota system which require importers to purchase specified quantities of domestic rice in order to be permitted to import rice under tariff-rate quotas.

Australia, China, the EC, Korea and Thailand have reserved their rights to participate as third parties to this dispute.

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 this interim report before it is finalised. Australia, as a third party, will only be formally notified of the panel's findings when the final report is circulated to all WTO Members, possibly sometime around the middle of the year.

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, parts 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)

We understand that the panel circulated its final report to the principal parties on 31 March 2006. The dispute relates to 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)

The European Communities again sought to have the fact-finding procedures under Annex V of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement initiated at the 14 March Dispute Settlement Body meeting.  This is in relation to the panel established on 17 February (WT/DS317) to examine the United States subsidies to Boeing.  The EC is seeking 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.  The United States has not agreed on the grounds that this would mean re-opening completed Annex V procedures.  The matter remains unresolved.

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 at the request of Argentina 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 Special Meeting - 14 March 2006
The DSB held a special meeting on 14 March, at which the Panel and Appellate Body Reports in United States: Tax Treatment for ‘Foreign Sales Corporations' - Second Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU (WT/DS108) were adopted. The European Communities and United States made comments regarding the European Communities' request to have further procedures under Annex V of the SCM Agreement initiated by the DSB following the United States' refusal to allow the resumption of these procedures in US: Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS317).

DSB Regular Meeting - 17 March 2006
At its regular meeting on 17 March, the DSB established panels in Turkey: Measures Affecting the Importation of Rice (WT/DS334) and Mexico: Anti-Dumping Duties on Steel Pipes and Tubes from Guatemala (WT/DS331).  Australia reserved its right to participate as a third party in the Turkey-Rice dispute. The United States agreed to Argentina's request for the establishment of an Article 21.5 panel in US: Sunset Reviews of Anti-Dumping Measures on Oil Country Tubular Goods from Argentina (WT/DS268). The panel was subsequently composed on 20 March.

DSB Special Meeting - 24 March 2006
The DSB also met on 24 March to adopt the Panel and Appellate Body Reports in Mexico: Tax Measures on soft Drinks and Other Beverages (WT/DS308).

DSB Special Session Meeting - 21 March 2006
The DSB met in Special Session on 21 March to discuss Member proposals in the ongoing DSU review negotiations.

Next DSB Meetings
The next regular DSB meeting will be held on 21 April 2006. A DSB Special Session meeting will be held on 24/25 April 2006.

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

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

United States - Final Dumping Determination on Softwood Lumber from Canada -Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Canada (WT/DS264/RW), Panel report, circulated 3 April 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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