Australia's Involvement in Current WTO Disputes

Summary of Australia's involvement in disputes currently before the World Trade Organization. Updated 4 March 2009.

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.

See: Australia's first statement to the DSB in DS367
See: Australia's second statement to the DSB in DS367

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 complies 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.

See: Australia's request for a preliminary ruling in DS367 (word) (rtf) [ PDF ]
See: Australia's further submission on its request for a preliminary ruling (word) (rtf) [ PDF ]
See: Australia's response to the submissions of third parties in relation to Australia's request for a preliminary ruling (word) (rtf) [ PDF ]
See: Preliminary ruling of the Panel

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

See: Australia's first written submission in DS367 (word - 3.6MB) (rtf - 33.5MB) (pdf - 2.5MB)
See: Executive summary of Australia's first written submission in DS367 (word) (rtf) [ PDF ]

Australia participated in the first panel hearing in Geneva on 2-3 September 2008.

See: Australia's opening statement in the first panel hearing in DS367
See: Executive summary of Australia's opening statement in the first panel hearing in DS367
See: Australia's closing statement in the first panel hearing in DS367
See: Executive summary of Australia's closing statement in the first panel hearing in DS367

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).

The next stage in the dispute process involves the Panel consulting independent experts on the scientific and technical issues in this dispute. Australia is then required to file a rebuttal submission in April 2009. It is expected that the second Panel hearing in Geneva will be open to the public.

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.

China – Grants, Loans and Other Incentives (DS387, DS388)

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 contends 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 has also 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.

The consultations were held in Geneva from 5-6 February 2009.

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 Panel’s report is expected to be released in mid-2009.

See: Media Release by the Minister for Trade on DS363
See: Australia's Third Party Oral Statement in DS363 [ PDF ] (word) (rtf)
See: Australia's response to questions from the Panel in DS363

China - Measures Affecting the Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (DS362)

On 25 September 2007, a panel was established to examine the complaint by the United States regarding China's protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Australia has joined as a third party, as have Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, the European Communities, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey. Third parties, including Australia, submitted written submissions on 26 March 2008. Australia delivered an oral statement at the third party hearing on 15 April 2008. The report of the Panel was circulated on 26 January 2009 and can be found at the WTO website.

See: Australia's third party submission in DS362 [ PDF ] (word) (rtf)
See: Australia's third party oral statement in DS362
See: Australia's Responses to Questions from the Panel in DS362 [ PDF ] (word) (rtf)

China - Measures Affecting Imports of Automobile Parts (DS339, DS340 and DS342)

On 26 October 2006, the DSB established a panel to examine the complaints by the European Communities, the United States and Canada concerning China's measures affecting the import of automobile parts. Argentina, Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Mexico joined as third parties.

China appealed the report of the Panel that found charges applied by China on the imports of automobile parts were an internal measure inconsistent with China's national treatment obligations under Article III of the GATT 1994. In the alternative, the Panel found that the charge was a customs duty in excess of that provided for in China's Schedule of Concessions inconsistent with Article II of the GATT 1994.

The report of the Appellate Body upheld the Panel's findings and was adopted by the DSB on 12 January 2009. The reports of the Panel and Appellant Body can be found at the WTO website.

See: Australia's response to panel questions in DS339, DS340 and DS342
See: Australia's third party oral statement in DS339, DS340 and DS342

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, Hong Kong, India, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.  The Panel expects to complete its work in the second half of 2009.

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 by the end of 2009.

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

A panel was established on 17 November 2008 to consider Thai customs duties and other fiscal measures imposed on imported Philippine cigarettes. This is the first time a panel will consider a Member's obligations under the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement. Australia has joined the dispute as a third party on the basis of systemic legal interests in the matters at issue. Australia has joined the dispute as a third party along with the European Communities, Chinese Taipei, the United States, China and India.  

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.

Australia has joined as a third party along with the European Communities, Canada, Argentina, Kuwait, Turkey, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

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 2009.

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.

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)

An irregular meeting of the DSB on 11 February 2009 considered China’s implementation of its recommendations in the China – Measures Affecting Imports of Automobile Parts (DS339, DS340 and DS342) disputes.

At its regular meeting on 19 February 2009, the DSB adopted the reports of the Panel and the Appellate Body in the United States – Continued Existence and Application of Zeroing Methodology (DS350) dispute.  Ambassador John Gero of Canada was elected Chairman of the DSB in 2009 and outgoing Chair Mario Matus has assumed his position as the Chairman of the General Council for 2009.

The next regular meeting of the DSB will be held on 20 March 2009.

Archive

Read archived WTO dispute settlement bulletins and details of former disputes involving Australia. Please note, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade no longer produces monthly WTO dispute settlement bulletins.