asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the answers by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 18 March (HL Deb, cols. 1099–1100) that they expect the World Trade Organisation to take 15 months to settle the European Union's dispute with the United States over steel tariffs, whether they are taking any steps to try to reduce the time taken by the World Trade Organisation to settle similar disputes in future. [HL4210]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)
WTO disputes inevitably involve complex and detailed issues which take time to resolve. The dispute settlement understanding (DSU)—which sets out the procedures to be followed in resolving WTO disputes—has in-built a number of stages which allow for review of panel findings and appeal by the parties involved. Those stages are important in ensuring the decisions of the panel are fair and based on all the evidence available. However, not all disputes take so long to resolve. Many are resolved at an early stage without the need to resort to a dispute panel.
That said, a review of the DSU is part of the new round of trade negotiation launched at Doha last year. The European Commission—supported by the UK Government—has put forward its suggestions on improving the process. That includes suggestions on streamlining it. The UK Government's aim for those negotiations is to ensure disputes are resolved in as efficient a manner as possible, while retaining the rigour of the current system.