Active WTO Litigation and Other Global Trade Developments.


     Important trade developments recently have involved the WTO as to the ‘Bali Agreements,’ EU-Russia litigation, and threatened Russian litigation over U.S. trade sanctions. Also have had recent developments concerning U.S. anti-tax inversion rules and Chinese antitrust and corruption actions. Here are some specifics:
….. India is on the verge of ruining the ‘Bali Agreements’ and WTO negotiations stemming from the Doha Round. The new government objected to proposed new WTO provisions (concerning reducing customs restrictions) that would restrict, in India’s assessment, its extensive food subsidies. India argues that these subsidies are necessary to ensure sufficient supplies and food security in its domestic market. This is too bad. India was once a constructive force in trade negotiations in the WTO as well as a forceful participant in its dispute resolution system. India and Trade Talks.” Financial Times (Sept. 25, 2014).
….. Two panels were established by the WTO to hear two trade disputes between the EU and Russia. Russia is contesting EU antidumping duties and the EU is contesting Russian agricultural import bans (pork, pigs). This dual-trade dispute is in addition to the EU – Russian dispute over the legality of EU trade sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine. “Two Panels EU – Russia.” WTO News (July 22, 2014)
….. U.S. Treasury Dept. action to restrict corporate tax inversions in cross-border mergers. Long overdue. Only the beginning to address this critical policy issue seriously. Guidelines issued pursuant to existing regulations. Relate to various issues such as internal loans and control between affiliated and subsidiary corporations. “Tax , Inversions and U.S. Corporations Abroad.” New York Times (Sept. 23, 2014).
….. Historical verdict under Antiterrorism Act (ATA). Foreign bank liable for its assistance in providing financing of terrorist organizations. “Terror Funding Litigation.” New York Times (Sept. 23, 2014).
….. China has aggressively used its antitrust law against multinationals in corruption probes. (Of course, the same can be said for the U.S.) The issue now becomes to what degree is antitrust law used as a pretext to protect its own firms and to create a new restriction on trade and investment.China Fines GSK for Corruption $500 Million.” New York Times (Sept. 20, 2014).
….Russia may very well file an action (request consultations) in the WTO over U.S. trade sanctions. This would be the first time the ‘Security Exception’ (GATT Article XXI) would be tested. Hard case to win. But if Russia prevails this would throw the WTO legal system and the global trading system into complete havoc.  “Russia and WTO Litigation Over U.S. Sanctions.” DK (Sept. 21, 2014).

About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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