WTO dispute ‘scorecard’

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. table re-drawn from World Bank paper showing who won what proportion of disputes

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