New — WTO summaries of trade disputes

For those following trade issues, a World Trade Organization report published today gives one-page summaries of 103 cases brought before the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body from 1995 to September 2006.

Such important disputes as the U.S. complaint against the European Commission on beef hormones, Canada’s complaint against the U.S. re softwood lumber, Brazil’s complaint against the U.S. on domestic support for upland cotton, and the earlier and far-reaching shrimp-turtle decision are included with core facts and findings.

It’s sobering to realize that complaints are brought about seemingly minor products in the world trading system, such as wheat gluten or preserved peaches. Products such as those, however, may be extremely important to certain countries that want others to play by the rules they all agreed to. It’s also sobering to realize the broad powers the WTO has in settling these disputes, particularly when it seems to give sway to protectionism in the name of the environment, as occurred in the shrimp-turtle decision. For some background and CEI’s perspective, see this article from 1999, and a recent one here.