Australia and WTO dispute settlement
About this publication
In this issue
Australia as a Complainant
European Communities: Export Subsidies on Sugar (WT/DS265/R)
The Appellate Body heard the European Communities’ appeal, and the cross-appeals of Australia, Brazil and Thailand, on 7 and 8 March. Its report is expected to be issued on 28 April. Australia sought appellate review of the Panel’s decision to exercise judicial economy in declining to examine Australia’s claims under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (“SCM Agreement”). The European Communities’ appeal notice is available on the WTO website.
Earlier, the Panel (in a 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 European Communities are in breach of the EC’s obligations for the reduction of such subsidies under the Agriculture Agreement. View the Panel Report (Word).
Australia’s submissions at the Panel and Appellate Body stages are available at:
European Communities: Protection of Trademarks and Geographical Indications for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs(WT/DS290)
This dispute concerns the European Communities’ regime for the protection of geographical indications (“GIs”) for foodstuffs and agricultural products. The United States made a separate, parallel complaint against the European Communities’ regime.
The Panel’s report was publicly released on 15 March 2005. The Panel agreed with Australia (and the US) that the European Communities’ legislation is inconsistent with the EC’s WTO obligations.
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
Canada: Measures Relating to Exports of Wheat (WT/DS276)
No new developments.
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.
United States: Subsidies on Upland Cotton (WT/DS267)
The Appellate Body’s report, issued on 3 March 2005, upheld earlier findings that some United States cotton subsidies were prohibited and that some suppressed world cotton prices. The dispute concerned a challenge by Brazil with regard to United States cotton subsidies under the Agriculture Agreement, the Subsidies Agreement and GATT 1994.
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 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 the disputes as a third party.
United States: Tax Treatment for “Foreign Sales Corporations” (WT/DS108)
No new developments. A panel was established at the 17 February DSB meeting at the 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.
European Communities – Selected Customs Matters (WT/DS315)
At the DSB meeting on 21 March, a panel was established 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.
Meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body
DSB Meeting – 21 March 2005
At the 21 March DSB meeting a panel was established at the request of the United States to examine concerns about lack of uniformity in the European Communities’ customs regime. Australia joined this dispute as a third party. A panel was also established at Korea’s request to examine Japan import quota restrictions relating to dried and seasoned laver. The DSB adopted the Appellate Body and Panel reports in United States – Subsidies on Upland Cotton.
The next regular DSB Meeting will be held on 20 April 2005.
WTO Dispute Settlement: Developments of Interest
Korea – Measures Affecting Trade in Commercial Vessels (WT/DS273)
The Panel’s report was circulated on 7 March. The Panel considered European Communities concerns that Korean measures - relating principally to the grant of pre-shipment loans - constituted prohibited subsidies and/or actionable subsidies in contravention of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. The Panel ruled that the Korean measures themselves (that is, independently of their application), did not mandate action inconsistent with WTO obligations. It found, however, that a number of specific transactions constituted prohibited export subsidies and, in application, were WTO-inconsistent. The Panel’s report is available on the WTO website.
United States – Countervailing Duty Investigation on Dynamic Random Access Memory Semiconductors (DRAMS) from Korea (WT/DS296)
On 29 March, the United States notified the DSB of its intention to appeal this matter, following circulation of the Panel’s report on 21 February 2005. The dispute concerns a countervailing duty investigation by the United States on imports of DRAMS from Korea. Korea alleged that determinations by the United States Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, and the imposition of a countervailing duty order, were inconsistent with provisions of the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (“SCM Agreement”). The Panel ruled that the United States’ imposition of countervailing duties on DRAMS from Korea violated obligations under the SCM. The Panel’s report is available on the WTO website.