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WTO's dispute settlement body had a busy year in 2016

July 4, 2017

According to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Annual Report covering activities in 2016, the WTO's dispute settlement system had its busiest year so far, averaging 22 cases per month where active proceedings are under way. These are cases where a panel or arbitration has been composed and where preparations are ongoing for the finalization of a panel, arbitration or Appellate Body report.

WTO members bring disputes to the WTO if they think their rights under trade agreements are being infringed. Settling disputes is the responsibility of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).

Out of the 520 trade disputes brought to the WTO since 1995, the largest number of disputes has been brought by the United States (112) and the European Union (97).

2016 was an active year for the initiation of disputes, with 17 requests for consultations, up from 13 in 2015. Developing country members made nine of the requests (up from seven) and were respondents in ten consultation requests.

Brazil launched three requests for consultations - against Indonesia, Thailand and the United States. Canada requested consultations with the United States concerning the imposition of countervailing measures on supercalendered paper. China initiated two disputes, one with the European Union and the other with the United States.

The European Union requested consultations with China on the export duties imposed on raw materials and with Colombia concerning measures imposed on imported spirits.

The United States requested consultations with China on three different matters: export duties on raw materials, domestic support provided to agricultural producers, and China's administration of its tariff-rate quotas, including those for wheat, rice and corn.

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