Disputes Settlement is the central pillar of the rules based multilateral trading system and the WTO’s unique contribution to the stability of the global economy. It underscores the rule of law and makes the trading system more secure and predictable. Every country has a sovereign right to frame rules and regulations for its country to regulate its international trade, without breaching its obligations and the rights to the member countries under the multi-lateral rules based World Trade Organization (WTO).
The commitment under the WTO is binding on its members. In case of non-compliance, the aggrieved member can take recourse to dispute settlement mechanism for remedy from the impairment of the rights available to the member concerned and to provide predictability and assurance of the promises committed under the multi-lateral system.
As per the mandate of the Doha Declaration, the WTO Members have been negotiating, aimed at improvements and clarifications of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). These are primarily based on Members’ experience with the Dispute Settlement System and efforts by Members to develop areas of convergence, while maintaining the respective policy objectives. There are in all twelve major issues which are under discussions in the DSU reforms. These are (i) Post Retaliation; (ii) Sequencing; (iii)Effective Compliance; (iv) Timeframe; (v) Enhanced Third Party Rights; (vi) Mutually agreed solutions; (vii) Remand; (viii) Transparency and amicus curie briefs; (ix)Special & differential treatment to developing countries; (x)flexibility and Member control; (xi) Panel composition and (xii)Strictly Confidential Information. India and other developing countries have been reiterating their objective for a development oriented review of the Dispute Settlement Procedures under the Doha Development Agenda (DDA). Some of the biggest challenges for developing countries like India are the associated cost with the legal process and the delay in compliance of the Rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body by the developed country members. Negotiations are still continuing without convergence of views on some issues.
Developing countries are active participants in the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM). Figures show that developing countries have been initiators of disputes in about 50% of the WTO disputes, singularly or as co-complainants. The same is true on the Respondent side. Developing countries’ participation has increased over time. In the first 10 years of the WTO DSM, developing country participation in consultations more than doubled.
India has been an active participant in the WTO DSM as complainant in 21 cases and as respondent in 22 cases. The details of India’s cases as Complainant can be accessed here and as Respondent can be accessed here.
India’s ongoing, active disputes are as follows:s
DS430: Related to Import restrictions by India on certain agricultural products including the Poultry and Poultry products. (Complainant-United States)
DS456: Related to the Domestic Content Requirements (DCR) in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) program of MNRE. (Complainant- United States)
DS436: Related to Exorbitant Countervailing duty (Anti-Subsidy duty or CVD) imposed by the US on certain hot rolled carbon steel products originating from India. (Respondent: United States)
India has joined as Third Party in over 90 cases of the total 480 cases of the WTO since its inception.