It’s not very accurate to talk of ‘winning’ a WTO dispute. A ‘win’ may mean a decision in favour of the complainant or the respondent on only one of several grounds. And the ‘win’ may or may not result in changes that satisfy the complainant, since the obligation in a dispute is to restore compliance with the WTO Agreements, not necessarily to do something that would help or please the ‘winning’ side. Also, many disputes are never adjudicated. They never get past the ‘consultations’ phase, or if they do are settled before a the recommendations of a dispute panel have been adopted. This is described in the Understanding on Dispute Settlement as the ‘preferred’ outcome; but who is the ‘winner’ in such a case? Despite these limitations, a ‘scorecard’ is sort of interesting. Here’s one derived from a recent World Bank http://econ.worldbank.org/view.php?type=5&id=29455” title=“link to a PDF file, about 100k”>research paper. Among the authors’ overall conclusions (note the last one in particular): # A country’s trade share is a pretty robust indicator of its likelihood to be either a complainant or a respondent in a WTO dispute
# There is not much, if any, evidence of a bias against developing countries either as complainants or respondents.
# Regulatory issues are fading as reasons for disputes and “trade defense” (safeguards, anti-dumping etc) disputes are the rising issue
# Complainants overwhelmingly win (88 percent of cases). One other thing: Canada has won two thirds of its complaints but lost every one in which it was the respondent. Seems to be the least successful participant to date.
Peter Gallagher is student of piano and photography. He was formerly a senior trade official of the Australian government. For some years after leaving government, he consulted to international organizations, governments and business groups on trade and public policy.
He teaches graduate classes at the University of Adelaide on trade research methods and the role of firms in trade and growth and tweets trade (and other) stuff from @pwgallagher