Thursday, May 2, 2013

Local jeans, tariffs and WTO disputes

Reports of an EU tariff on US made jeans was in the news recently. This is a result of a longstanding dispute which has reached the compliance stage - the EU measures are in relation to non-compliance by the US of the WTO decision in DS217 (United States — Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000) in relation to the Byrd Amendment.The dispute itself had many other complainants (9 of them).Would the impact be much more if all these complainants imposed retaliatory tariffs?

I had blogged months ago about the urge to "but local". 

Some lessons from this dispute:

1. Compliance in WTO disputes need not always result in doing away with the challenged measure.the measure can continue but the country must be prepared to face the trade consequences.

2. WTO disputes, at times, are lengthy propositions - compliance and retaliation can take years. We have seen many disputes that are pending for ages.

3. The WTO dispute settlement system does have teeth - non-compliance can lead to retaliatory tariff. One can ignore implementing a WTO decision. But retaliation can be a consequence.

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