TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Mar10/15)
26 March 2010
Third World Network

EU urged to provide information on its sugar exports
Published in SUNS #6888 dated 22 March 2010

Geneva, 19 Mar (Kanaga Raja) -- Australia, Brazil and Thailand, major  sugar producers and exporters, on Friday urged the European Union to  provide the necessary technical information underpinning its decision to  export an additional 500,000 tonnes of out-of-quota sugar.

The call came at a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the  World Trade Organization.

Recalling that the EU had recently offered to provide the necessary  technical information, the three countries said that the EU was yet to  provide any such information.

At the beginning of the DSB meeting, Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah of  Nigeria took over the chairmanship of the DSB.

On 28 January, the EU announced a decision to increase its out-of-quota  sugar exports by half a million tonnes. It argued that this "temporary  measure", which it claimed, fully respects the EU's international  obligations, was made possible by the "exceptional market conditions" at  both the EU and world level.

In a press release and subsequent press conference on 1 February, the  three countries had expressed concern that the increase in out-of-quota  exports by 500,000 tonnes means that the total out-of-quota sugar exports  by the EU may reach 1,850,000 tonnes in marketing year 2009/2010.

This amount would be 576,500 tonnes over the 1,273,500 tonne ceiling that  is the EU's commitment under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, they  complained. (See SUNS #6855 dated 3 February 2010.)

In a joint statement at the DSB on Friday, Australia, speaking on behalf  of the three sugar producers and exporters, recalled the individual  statements made by the three countries at the last meeting of the DSB on  18 February as well as the joint statement made by them at a meeting of  the Committee on Agriculture on 10 March.

The statements had expressed concern at the recent decision of the EU to export out-of-quota sugar in excess of its annual scheduled quantity commitment level of 1.2735 million tonnes.

According to Australia, these additional EU exports have already negatively affected market sentiment and driven world prices down.

By signaling to EU sugar producers that excess out-of-quota sugar can be exported, the EU risks a continuous cycle of over-production and artificially depressed global prices, unwinding the important reforms undertaken by the EU following the EC-sugar dispute findings, said Australia.

In its statement, the EU said that at the previous meeting of the DSB, it  had already highlighted that its decision to export 0.5 million tonnes of  sugar was a temporary measure, adopted in view of the exceptional market  conditions at both the EU and world level.

In this respect, it pointed to world prices being at a record high level  creating what it viewed as a shortage of sugar which affected importing  developing countries.

"We do not expect these market conditions to last beyond the season  2009-2010. The export of 0.5 million tonnes is now exhausted," said the  EU, adding that it has not renewed the temporary decision.

The EU again claimed that the decision respects its international  obligations, in that the quantities on sale are not subsidized and  happened at a time when world sugar prices were higher than EU production  costs and EU producers have become much more competitive following the  drastic overhaul of the EU Common Market Organization for sugar.

The EU reiterated its insistence on its right to engage in international  trade - even if competing exporters of other WTO Members would, for rather  obvious reasons of commercial interest, prefer otherwise.

The EU further voiced its readiness to continue a dialogue regarding the  background underpinning what it called its temporary decision to export  sugar.

In other actions, in a status report on its implementation of the  recommendations and rulings of the DSB in a dispute brought by the US  against Chinese measures affecting the protection and enforcement of  intellectual property rights, China informed the DSB that the Decision of  the Standing Committee of the Eleventh National People's Congress on  Amending the Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China was adopted  on 26 February 2010.

(The reasonable period of time for implementation expires on 20 March  2010.)

In a communication to the DSB, China said that it has implemented the  recommendations and rulings of the DSB with respect to the Copyright Law.

In its statement, China, referring to the approval of the amendments to  its Copyright Law, said that one of the amendments was to change Article 4  of the law.

According to China, the new Article 4 stipulates that: Copyright owners'  exercise of their copyright, shall not violate the Constitution, laws or  prejudice the public interests. The State shall perform supervision over  publication or dissemination of works as prescribed by laws.

Secondly, said China, on 17 March 2010, the State Council adopted the  decision to revise the Regulations for Customs Protection of Intellectual  Property Rights. One of the revisions was to improve the disposal  procedures of seized IPR infringement products.

By doing these, China said that it has completed all necessary domestic  legislative procedures in implementing the recommendations and rulings of  the DSB in this dispute.

In its statement, the US said that while China has stated that it has  implemented the recommendations and rulings of the DSB with respect to the  Copyright Law, it is not in a position to share China's assessment at this  time.

It looked forward to further discussions with China to understand the  basis for its claim.

With respect to China stating that it has implemented the recommendations  and rulings of the DSB concerning its customs regime, the US again said  that it was not in a position to share China's assessment at this time,  adding that it looked forward to further discussions with China to  understand the basis for its claim on this issue.

In an intervention, the EU took note of China's changes to its Copyright  Law.

With regard to the legislative proposals on customs measures on which  China is working, and given the expiry on 20 March of the reasonable  period of time (for implementation of the recommendations and rulings of  the DSB), the EU said that it would be interested in any further  information that China may be able to provide regarding the timing for  adoption. +