Monday, March 7, 2011
There has been more activity at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in the first part of 2011 as compared to 2010, perhaps reflecting more protectionist measures by governments in light of the weak economy. In the first two months of 2010, only one dispute settlement matter was formally initiated at the WTO DSB. In the first two months of this year, three cases have already been filed.
The United States continued to be the most frequent user of the WTO dispute settlement process in 2010 with six appearances either as complainant or respondent. China was the second most frequent participant with five appearances; one as complainant and four as respondent. Three of those six cases involved complaints by the U.S. against China (DS413, DS414 and DS 419).
This trend is continuing in 2011, with the U.S. appearing as respondent in two cases, with China as complainant in one and South Korea as a complainant in the second. (The third case was brought by Ukraine against Moldova.) Out of the last ten cases brought at the DSB, four are disputes beween the U.S. and China. The tensions in trade relations between the U.S. and China and the frequency of resort to the WTO DSB by those two states (as well as the rest of the WTO membership) will likely be worth watching this year.