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Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
May 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 European Communities, Korea, Thailand, Argentina and Egypt 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 final report has been circulated to parties. 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, which is expected by the end of September 2006.

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 European Communities (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 EC claims of compliance with the findings in the European Communities - Hormones disputes.  Australia is a third party to both disputes.

European Communities: Selected Customs Matters (WT/DS315)

The dispute relates to the United States' claims that the European Communities (EC) 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 (EC) again requested having the fact-finding procedures under Annex V of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement initiated at the 17 May Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) meeting, but again no agreement was reached.  At this stage, this issue is suspended from consideration by the DSB in order to allow consultations.

The United States' (US) second request to establish a second panel to examine additional EC measures which it alleges are inconsistent with the EC's obligations under the SCM Agreement and GATT 1994 was granted during a special DSB meeting on 9 May.  However, its request to merge this panel with the original panel established in July 2005 was blocked by the EC.  The US's written replies to Brazil's questions on the US's requests during the 21 April DSB meeting were circulated (see WTO Document WT/DS316/8).

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 Regular Meeting - 9 May 2006
At the DSB regular meeting on 9 May, a second panel was established in European Communities - Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS316/6), as previously requested by the United States (US). The US repeated its request from the 21 April DSB meeting that the DSB agree to merge the new panel with the pre-existing panel in this case. The European Communities (EC) once again rejected this request. The EC did agree, however, that there should be only one panel in this dispute and that the same procedural approach should be taken in both the EC's and US' aircraft disputes. Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and Korea joined as third parties to the newly established panel.

The DSB adopted the Panel and Appellate Body Reports in United States - Investigation of the International Trade Commission in Softwood Lumber from Canada - Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU (WT/DS277/RW). The US noted that it had reached an agreement with Canada on the basic terms for settling their differences over softwood lumber trade.

The DSB also adopted the Panel and Appellate Body Reports in United States - Laws, Regulations and Methodology for Calculating Dumping Margins ("Zeroing") (WT/DS294/R).

DSB Regular Meeting - 17 May 2006
At the DSB regular meeting on 17 May, the European Communities (EC) said the implementing measures required to bring its new sugar regime Resolution (318/2006) into operation were being adopted during May. The EC also noted its intention to comply with the Appellate Body ruling in EC - Export Subsidies on Sugar (WT/DS265, WT/DS266, WT/DS283) within the Reasonable Period of Time (which expired on May 22). Australia, Brazil and Thailand each stated their concerns that the EC would not be in compliance with the DSB's rulings by this date.

In United States - Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS317), the EC reiterated its view that Annex V procedures under the SCM Agreement were automatic at the request of one party to a dispute. The United States again rejected this. The matter is now suspended from DSB consideration to allow consultations.

The DSB Chair also reported to Members on the progress of selecting a replacement Appellate Body Member for Mr John Lockhart.

Next DSB Meetings
A regular DSB meeting was scheduled for 19 June 2006.

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

No new Panel or Appellate Body reports were circulated during May. Previous reports are available on the WTO website.

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