Mexico tax measures on soft drinks and other beverages



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US – Gambling, a requirement of "certainty" applicable to the terms "to secure compliance".48 In our view, a measure can be said to be designed "to secure compliance" even if the measure cannot be guaranteed to achieve its result with absolute certainty.49 Nor do we consider that the "use of coercion"50 is a necessary component of a measure designed "to secure compliance". Rather, Article XX(d) requires that the design of the measure contribute "to secur[ing] compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of" the GATT 1994.

  • Nevertheless, while we agree with Mexico that the Panel's emphasis on "certainty" and "coercion" is misplaced, we consider that Mexico's arguments miss the point. Even if "international countermeasures" could be described as intended "to secure compliance", what they seek "to secure compliance with"—that is, the international obligations of another WTO Member—would be outside the scope of Article XX(d). This is because "laws or regulations" within the meaning of Article XX(d) refer to the rules that form part of the domestic legal order of the WTO Member invoking the provision and do not include the international obligations of  another  WTO Member.

  • Mexico finds support for its interpretation in the Appellate Body's rulings in  US – Shrimp and US – Shrimp (Article 21.5 – Malaysia).51 We fail to see how these rulings support Mexico's position. In those cases, the United States sought to justify its measures under Article XX(g) of the GATT 1994, and the measures at issue were domestic laws and regulations of the United States.52 The reference to the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (the "Inter-American Convention") was made in the context of the examination of whether the measures constituted "a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail" for purposes of the chapeau of Article XX.53 The United States, in those cases, did not argue that its measures were justified under Article XX(d) because they were intended to secure compliance with the obligations of another Member under the Inter-American Convention. In the present case, Mexico seeks to justify its measures under paragraph (d) of Article XX, and not under paragraph (g). Moreover, Mexico not only refers to the NAFTA in relation to the chapeau of Article XX, but also seeks justification for its measures under paragraph (d) on the basis that they are allegedly intended to secure compliance with the United States' NAFTA obligations.

  • We observe, furthermore, that Mexico's interpretation of Article XX(d) disregards the fact that the GATT 1994 and the DSU specify the actions that a WTO Member may take if it considers that another WTO Member has acted inconsistently with its obligations under the GATT 1994 or any of the other covered agreements. As the United States points out54, Mexico's interpretation of the terms "laws or regulations" as including international obligations of another WTO Member would logically imply that a WTO Member could invoke Article XX(d) to justify also measures designed "to secure compliance" with that other Member's WTO obligations. By the same logic, such action under Article XX(d) would evade the specific and detailed rules that apply when a WTO Member seeks to take countermeasures in response to another Member's failure to comply with rulings and recommendations of the DSB pursuant to Article XXIII:2 of the GATT 1994 and Articles 22 and 23 of the DSU.55 Mexico's interpretation would allow WTO Members to adopt WTO-inconsistent measures based upon a unilateral determination that another Member has breached its WTO obligations, in contradiction with Articles 22 and 23 of the DSU and Article XXIII:2 of the GATT 1994.

  • Finally, even if the terms "laws or regulations" do not go so far as to encompass the WTO agreements, as Mexico argues56, Mexico's interpretation would imply that, in order to resolve the case, WTO panels and the Appellate Body would have to assume that there is a violation of the relevant international agreement (such as the NAFTA) by the complaining party, or they would have to assess whether the relevant international agreement has been violated. WTO panels and the Appellate Body would thus become adjudicators of non-WTO disputes.57 As we noted earlier58, this is not the function of panels and the Appellate Body as intended by the DSU.59

  • For these reasons, we agree with the Panel that Article XX(d) is not available to justify WTO-inconsistent measures that seek "to secure compliance" by another WTO Member with that other Member's international obligations. In sum, while we agree with the Panel's conclusion, several aspects of our reasoning set out above differ from the Panel's own reasoning. First, we conclude that the terms "laws or regulations" cover rules that form part of the domestic legal system of a WTO Member, including rules deriving from international agreements that have been incorporated into the domestic legal system of a WTO Member or have direct effect according to that WTO Member's legal system.60 Second, we have found that Article XX(d) does not require the "use of coercion" nor that the measure sought to be justified results in securing compliance with absolute certainty. Rather, Article XX(d) requires that the measure be designed "to secure compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of" the GATT 1994.61 Finally, we do not endorse the Panel's reliance on the Appellate Body's interpretation in US – Gambling of the term "necessary" to interpret the terms "to secure compliance" in Article XX(d).62

  • Therefore, we  uphold, albeit for different reasons, the Panel's conclusion, in paragraph 8.198 of the Panel Report, that Mexico's measures do not constitute measures "to secure compliance with laws or regulations", within the meaning of Article XX(d) of the GATT 1994.



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