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Nothing Dramatic (… regarding administration of customs laws): A Comment on the WTO Appellate Body Report EC – Selected Customs Matters

  • BERNARD M. HOEKMAN (a1) and PETROS C. MAVROIDIS (a2)
Abstract

This paper discusses the 2005 dispute between the European Community (EC) and the United States (US) regarding the customs classification of two specific products and the ambit of Art. X GATT (Publication and Administration of Trade Regulations). The Dispute Settlement Panel and the Appellate Body (AB) essentially upheld the position advocated by the EC, with one exception that is of no practical import, as the EC had already modified its regime. While the AB followed prior case law, it added two new findings. First, the WTO-consistency of laws can be challenged under Art. X GATT if they concern the implementation or application of laws concerning customs administration and enforcement. Second, the obligation included in Art. X.3(b) GATT to establish tribunals or procedures to review and correct administrative actions relating to customs matters concerns courts of first instance only. Thus it is quite possible that their decisions might not be uniform, and absence of uniformity at this level is not a violation of Art. X.3(b).

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Copyright
References
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Erskine, Daniel H. (2006), ‘The US–EC Dispute over Customs Matters: Trade Facilitation, Customs Unions, and the Meaning of WTO Obligations’, Florida Journal of International Law, 18: 424484.
Hudec, Robert E. (1990), The GATT Legal System and World Trade Diplomacy, 2nd edn, Salem, MA: Butterworth.
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Matsushita, Mitsuo, Schonbaum, Thomas J., and Mavroidis, Petros C. (2006), The World Trade Organization: Law Practice, and Policy, 2nd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mavroidis, Petros C. (2006), ‘If I don't do it somebody else will (or won't)’, Journal of World Trade, 40: 187214.
Tarr, David G. (2002), ‘On the Design of Tariff Policy: Arguments for and against Uniform Tariffs’, in Hoekman, B., Mattoo, A., and English, P. (eds.), Development, Trade and the WTO: A Handbook, Washington: World Bank.
WTO (2006a), European Communities – Selected Customs Matters – Report of the Panel, WT/DS315/R. Geneva: WTO.
WTO (2006b), European Communities – Selected Customs Matters – Report of the Appellate Body, WT/DS315/AB/R. Geneva: WTO.
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World Trade Review
  • ISSN: 1474-7456
  • EISSN: 1475-3138
  • URL: /core/journals/world-trade-review
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