The World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system allows other Members to participate in dispute proceedings between two or more Members; Australia gets involved if we have an interest in the matter under dispute.
Since 1995 more than 500 disputes have been brought to the WTO and over 350 rulings have been issued.
Australia and WTO disputes
It's in Australia's interest for international trade under the WTO to be open, equitable and enforceable. The dispute settlement system enables WTO Members to enforce their trade rights and has helped develop an important body of international law.
The dispute process
If another WTO Member is not complying with its obligations to the detriment of Australian exporters or companies, the Australian Government may be able to take dispute settlement action. Options include:
- bilateral discussions with the government of the trading partner to settle the dispute without formal WTO proceedings
- initiating a formal complaint under WTO dispute procedures. The Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment makes the final decision on initiating dispute settlement action.
Australia's involvement in WTO disputes
Since 1995 Australia has been involved in a number of disputes as a complainant, a respondent and as a third party. For example, we successfully challenged Korean and United States meat import restrictions to deliver benefits for Australian farmers.