January 2021: Series 1

International Trade

Complaint against Chinese duties on Australian barley

Australia has requested for consultation with China concerning anti-dumping duties on imports of Australian barley. To read more see here

Dispute Settlement Meeting on 18th December

WTO members hoped for a more flexible arrangement in the dispute settlement during pandemic. Such flexibilities include the holding virtual and hybrid panel hearings. To read more see here

EU Requests US of Non-Compliance with WTO decision

The US with the Continuing Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 (CDSOA) was said to violate its obligation to the Anti-Dumping Agreement and the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement. The Appellate Body directed the US to bring the CDSOA into conformity with its WTO obligations. The EU now requests the United States to cease transferring anti-dumping and countervailing duties to US Domestic industries or risk not complying with the 2004 decision. To read more see here and here

Indonesia Appeal Compliance Report on Chicken Import Measures

Indonesia wishes to appeal the compliance report brought by Brazil in Indonesia-Measures Concerning the Importation of Chicken Meat and Chicken Products. Unfortunately tough, there is a vacancy in the Appellate Body, thus, the date of hearing for the appeal is currently uncertain. To read more see here and here

India’s E-Commerce and Farm Policies to be reviewed by the WTO

The review is set to occur in January of 2021 and is part of WTO’s foundational features of reviewing the trade policy of its member States. The Indian government officials are bracing for a slew of questions that will likely focus on its recent legislations that have overturned its digital commerce and farming industries. To read more see here and here.

International Investment

Enforcement of Reko Diq Award against Pakistan 

Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) has approached the High Court of Justice in British Virgin Islands against Pakistan to enforce the 5.97 billion dollar award against Pakistan in the Reko Diq Award. The Reko Diq award was given after TCC challenged the non-transparent  termination of its mining lease by the Balochsitan mining authority. 

To read more see here

Cairn Energy Dispute Against India 

In another devastating blow to India’s taxation regime, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has ruled against India for its retrospective taxation measure. The PCA has awarded Cairn Energy $ 1.2 billion. This marks the third time in 2020 that India was liable for its retrospective amendments, first two being the Vodafone and Nissan dispute. 

To read more see here, here and here

Human Rights

Saudi Justice System: Loujain al-Hathloul sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison

Loujain al-Hathloul, the Saudi women’s rights activist was detained three years ago by the Saudi government. On 28th December 2020, she was sentenced to five years and eight months in jail after being found guilty of spying, conspiracy against the kingdom, and violating certain anti-terror laws.

Al-Hathloul was one of the Saudi activists who openly called for the right to drive before it was granted in 2018 and for the removal of male guardianship laws that had stifled women’s freedom of movement and ability to travel abroad. 

Some of the charges specified include: 

• Meeting British and other European diplomats, and well as applying for a job at the United Nations, and using her arrest in her CV. 
• Accused of speaking to foreign press agencies and international human rights
• Joining a group on the messaging app Telegram, where she discussed human rights and a new constitution, liaising with the human rights defender Khaled al-Omair. 
• Receiving daily expenses of €50 from foreign organisations when attending international conferences.
• Tweets about her drive from UAE into Saudi Arabia and documents found on her laptop including a PDF file of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. 
• Accused of communicating with European embassies about her case at the time the Saudi crown prince was due to visit those countries.

Amnesty reports that Loujain has been held incommunicado with no access to her family or lawyer during the first three months of her detention, since 2018. During that time, Loujain was beaten, waterboarded, given electric shocks, sexually harassed, and threatened with rape and murder.

Indian Farmers’ Protests

Several thousand farmers recently marched to New Delhi from neighbouring Indian states to protest new legislation that hurts small farmers and benefits large corporations. The  farmers are particularly reacting to the new laws that divest them of minimum price guarantees for their crops, however the impetus for protest goes far beyond that (see here for more).

The bills aim to deregulate the tight agricultural market mechanism — will further reduce their price security net.Under the new laws, a host of entities including corporates, traders and even the end customer can procure from farmers without a licence or payment of fee, unlike in the Agricultural Produce Market Committees structure. Thus allowing large corporates to exercise control over farm prices in the long run when the free market system is fully established.

A recent letter drafted by students from Panjab University make the following demands to the Supreme Court of India:

• An inquiry into the illegitimate use of water cannons, tear gase, and lathis on peaceful protesting farmers.
• Direction to the Haryana and Delhi Police to withdraw cases against innocent farmers, registered on the basis of political vendetta.
• Issue Order to look into the cases of illegal detention of protesters.
• Direction to the governments at both Central and State level to ensure the safety of all protesters, and provide basic amenities for all, especially women, children and elderly. Mobile toilet vans should be provided at protest places.
• Issuing guidelines regarding hygienic conditions at protest sites in the backdrop of COVID-19.
• Action to curb fake news and against media channels, engaged in misrepresentation, polarisation and sensationalisation of the whole issue.

Read more here and here.

See Indian Farmer’s Protests – In Pictures.

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