About this publication

Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
May 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 at the 19 May DSB meeting. The Appellate Body Report, issued on 28 April 2005, upheld Australia's (and Brazil's and Thailand's) challenge to the European Communities' (EC) sugar export subsidies. The Appellate Body has ruled that, consistent with its WTO obligations on agricultural export subisidies, the EC must significantly limit its subsidised exports of sugar and reduce its annual expenditure on export subsidies. In his Media Release, 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.

Australia had sought appellate review of the Panels's decision to exercise judicial economy in declining to examine Australia's claims under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures ("SCM Agreement"). The Appellate Body found that Australia's claims under the SCM Agreement should have been so examined by the Panel, but that the Appellate Body was not in the position to complete the analysis. Copies of the EC's appeal notice and Australia's cross appeal notice are available on the WTO website. Australia's cross-appeal submission is posted on the DFAT website:

Earlier, the Panel (in its Report issued on 15 October 2004) 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 Australia's own submissions to the Panel and Appellate Body.

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

At the 19 May DSB meeting, the European Communities (EC) indicated its intention to comply with the findings of the Panel by modifying its geographical indications (GIs) regulation. The Panel Report was adopted at a DSB meeting on 20 April 2005. This dispute concerned the EC's regime for the protection of GIs for foodstuffs and agricultural products. The United States made a separate, parallel complaint against the EC's regime. 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.)

Selected disputes involving Australia as a Third Party

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

No new developments.

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

No new developments. 

European Communities: Continued Suspension of Obligations in the EC Hormones Dispute (WT/DS320 and WT/DS321)

No new developments.  Panels were established at the 17 February 2005 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)

A panel was composed on 2 May 2005. 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 on 30 May 2005 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: 19 May 2005

At the 19 May DSB meeting, the Appellate Body and Panel Reports in the EC - Export Subsidies on Sugar dispute were adopted. The Appellate Body and Panel Reports in Dominican Republic - Measures Affecting the Importation and Internal Sale of Cigarettes were also adopted.

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

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

European Communities: Customs Classification of Frozen Boneless Chicken Cuts (WT/DS269/R and WT/DS286/R)

The Panel Reports in these two parallel disputes, brought by Brazil and Thailand respectively, were circulated on 30 May 2005. The disputes concerned the question of whether European Community (EC) measures pertaining to the classification of certain salted chicken cuts resulted in treatment for those products that was less favourable than that provided for in the EC's schedule of concessions, in violation of Article II:1(a) and Article II:1(b) of the GATT 1994. With regard to both Brazil and Thailand's complaints, the Panel found that the products in question were covered by the EC's schedule of concessions; that the EC measures in question resulted in the imposition of customs duties on products at issue in excess of duties provided for in respect of the concession recorded in the EC schedule, and that the EC acted inconsistently with the requirements of Article II:1(a) and II:1(b), and nullified and impaired benefits accruing to both complainants.

[More bulletins]