Australia and WTO dispute settlement

Monthly Bulletin
September 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)

No new developments. A panel was composed on 31 July 2006 and is expected to conduct hearings in November 2006.

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

The final panel report was publicly released on 29 September 2006.  Parties now have 60 days to lodge an appeal.

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

At the request of the parties in the disputes, the panels opened their proceedings with the parties and scientific experts on 27-28 September for observation by WTO Members and the general public via closed-circuit broadcast to a separate viewing room at WTO Headquarters in Geneva.

European Communities: Selected Customs Matters (WT/DS315)

The Panel’s decision was circulated on 16 June 2006.  The United States and European Communities have both appealed the Panel’s decision and an Appellate Body hearing took place on 28-29 September. Australia made an oral statement. The Appellate Body decision reviewing the Panel decision is expected by November.

See: July 2006 Bulletin for a summary of the Panel decision.

See: Oral statement by Australia to the Appellate Body [ PDF ]

United States: Subsidies on Upland Cotton (WT/DS267)

On 28 September 2006, the Disputes Settlement Body (DSB) granted Brazil's request for the establishment of an Article 21.5 panel to determine the existence or consistency of measures taken by the United States (US) to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB in this dispute.  In making its request, Brazil stated that with respect to some of the DSB's recommendations and rulings in the dispute, adopted on 21 March 2005, the US had failed to adopt any implementation measures, and that the implementation measures that it had adopted fell far short of compliance with the WTO covered agreements and the DSB's recommendations and rulings. The US disagreed, indicating that it had terminated the Step 2 programme and two of the three export credit guarantee programmes found to be prohibited subsidies by the DSB, while the third export credit guarantee programme had been substantially modified. Given the disagreement between the two parties as to the existence and WTO consistency of measures taken to comply, Brazil sought recourse to dispute settlement under Article 21.5 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding, and requested that the DSB refer the matter to the original panel. Australia, which was a third party to the original proceedings, reserved its third-party rights to participate in the Article 21.5 proceedings of the panel in this dispute.

China : Measures Affecting Imports of Automobile Parts (WT/DS339, DS340 and DS342)

In April 2006, the EC, the US and Canada each filed requests for consultations with China about China’s measures affecting imports of automobile parts.  Joint consultations were held in Geneva on 11 – 12 May 2006 and Australia, Japan and Mexico attended as third parties to those consultations.  The complainants claim that China imposes a charge on imported auto parts that is equal to the higher tariff on completed motor vehicles where the imported auto parts constitute a certain percentage of a vehicle that is assembled within China.  In particular, they submit that the disputed measures breach the GATT rules against discriminatory taxation, the prohibition against subsidies contingent on local content under the SCM Agreement, China’s Schedule of Concessions, China’s Protocol of Accession, and the TRIMS Agreement.  At the 28 September 2006 meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), the complainants requested the establishment of panels.  However, China blocked these first-time requests.  The panel will be established automatically at the second requests.

European Communities and Certain Member States/United States:  Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (WT/DS316 and WT/DS317)

No new developments. See item below (WT/DS347) on the second panel established to examine EC measures. 

European Communities and Certain Member States: Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (Second Complaint) (WT/DS347)

There have been no further developments in this dispute following establishment of the panel and agreed organizational timetable – see July 2006 Bulletin

Brazil – Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres (WT/DS332)

No new developments. Australia made a brief oral statement to the panel at the Third Party Session on 6 July 2006 - see July 2006 Bulletin. The Panel’s report is expected by late 2006.

Chile – Price Band System and Safeguard Measures Relating to Certain Agricultural Products –Recourse to Article 21.5 (WT/DS207)

No new developments. An oral hearing for third parties took place on 2 August. Australia made an oral statement. The Panel is expected to complete its work by late 2006.

See: Oral Statement by Australia to the Panel [ PDF ]

Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)

Two regular meetings of the DSB took place during September.

At its meeting on 1 September, the DSB deferred Brazil's first-time request for a compliance panel to examine US implementation in the “Cotton” case (DS267) following an objection by the US.

At its meeting on 28 September, the DSB established a compliance panel under DSU Article 21.5 at the second request by Brazil to review US' implementation of the DSB rulings in the “Cotton” case. At the same meeting, China blocked the first-time requests by the EC, US and Canada for panels to examine China's measures on imports of auto parts; and the US blocked Thailand's first-time request for a panel to examine US measures on shrimp from Thailand.

Further information on DSB proceedings is available on the WTO website.

Next DSB Meetings

The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled to take place on 26 October 2006.

WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest

On 20 September, the WTO issued the panel report that had examined Japan's complaint against US' measures relating to zeroing and sunset reviews (DS322). The report is available on the WTO website.

On 28 September, Mr. David Unterhalter was sworn in as a member of the Appellate Body at a ceremony at the WTO. 

On 29 September, the WTO issued the reports of the panel that had examined complaints by the United States, Canada and Argentina, respectively, against “European Communities — Measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products” (DS291, DS292 and DS293). These reports are available on the WTO website.

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