Arbitrators have in substance ruled in favour of the EU in the first WTO appeal dealt with under the ‘Multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement’, known as the ‘MPIA’.
The final and binding award confirms that the anti-dumping duties imposed by Colombia on frozen fries from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands breach World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and improperly restrict access to the Colombian market.
The decision is a win for European producers whose exports to Colombia of well over €20 million were affected by the Colombian duties.
It sends a strong signal to any country thinking of restricting EU exports that anti-dumping investigations must fully comply with WTO rules, and highlights the systemic importance of the MPIA.
This case is also clear proof that WTO disputes can be resolved quickly and efficiently, with the final award issued well within the 90-day deadline.
Even though the WTO Appellate Body is currently hobbled by a long-running blockage on appointments, this appeal could be dealt with in accordance with WTO rules. That is because both Colombia and the EU are in the ‘MPIA’. This arrangement is open to all WTO Members while the Appellate Body remains blocked. Participating WTO Members agree appeal arbitration procedures in WTO disputes between them. This safeguards their WTO right to binding, two-tier and independent dispute settlement in any such disputes, in the continued absence of a functioning WTO Appellate Body. As such, it provides an important and interim back stop for the multilateral rules-based trading system, and avoids situations where this system is undermined by ‘appeals into the void’, i.e. into the void left by the non-functioning Appellate Body.
Colombia must now bring itself into compliance with the ruling, either immediately or within a time limit agreed with the EU or set by a WTO arbitrator. If Colombia does not comply, the EU can get WTO authorisation to adopt countermeasures.
More information: European Commission