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WTO panel asks India, EU to negotiate IT tariffs by September

The WTO’s dispute settlement body on Thursday agreed not to adopt a ruling against India’s import duties on certain information and technology products untill September 19, following a request for the same by the country and the European Union (EU).

Both regions have requested this as they are engaged to resolve the dispute bilaterally.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) in a statement said that the members have agreed at a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on June 15 to a request from the EU and India to grant it additional time to consider the adoption of the panel ruling.

In a communication to the World Trade Organisation earlier this month, both regions have called for a special meeting of the WTO’s dispute settlement body (DSB) on June 15.

They had asked the DSB not to adopt the ruling, which was given by a WTO dispute settlement panel in April.

The dispute panel of the WTO has ruled that the import duties imposed by India on certain informational and technology products violate global trading norms.

“The DSB agreed to a request from the European Union and India for additional time for the DSB to consider the adoption of the panel ruling…In line with the request, the DSB will now have until 19 September to adopt the panel report unless either the EU or India appeal the panel’s findings or the DSB decides by consensus not to adopt the panel ruling,” the WTO said.

WTO dispute rules normally require the adoption or appeal of a panel report within 60 days of the report’s circulation to members.

The EU and India said the additional time would help facilitate the resolution of the dispute.

WTO dispute rules normally require the adoption or appeal of a panel report within 60 days of the report’s circulation to members.

The development also assumes significance as India and the EU are negotiating a free trade agreement.

The next round of talks for the proposed pact is scheduled from June 19-23 here. So far, four rounds of talks have happened.

The panel ruling followed a dispute filed by the EU, Japan and Taiwan against these duties in WTO.

On April 2, 2019, the EU challenged the introduction of import duties by India on a wide range of ICT products, for instance, mobile phones and components, base stations, integrated circuits and optical instruments.

The EU had claimed that the measures appear to be inconsistent with certain provisions of WTO. Later, Chinese Taipei and Japan also joined the dispute.

According to WTO rules, a member country can file a case in the Geneva-based multilateral body if they feel that a particular trade measure is against the norms of WTO.

Bilateral consultation is the first step to resolving a dispute. If both sides are not able to resolve the matter through consultation, either of them can approach the establishment of a dispute settlement panel.

The panel’s ruling or report can be challenged at WTO’s appellate body.

Interestingly, the appellate body is not functioning because of differences among member countries to appoint its members. Several disputes are already pending with this body. The US has been blocking the appointment of the members. PTI

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