i l -ional Agricultural Trade and Policy Center
COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF A WTO DISPUTE
Josyline Javelosa and Andrew Schmitz
WPTC 04-03 July 2004
WORKING PAPER SERIES
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE AND POLICY CENTER
The International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center (IATPC) was established in 1990
in the Food & Resource Economics Department (FRED) of the Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida. Its mission is to provide
information, education, and research directed to immediate and long-term enhancement
and sustainability of international trade and natural resource use. Its scope includes not
only trade and related policy issues, but also agricultural, rural, resource, environmental,
food, state, national and international policies, regulations, and issues that influence trade
The Center's objectives are to:
Support initiatives that enable a better understanding of U.S. and international
trade policy issues impacting the competitiveness of Florida agriculture and all
specialty crops and livestock nationwide;
Serve as a nationwide resource base for research on international agricultural
trade policy issues on all specialty crops and livestock;
Disseminate agricultural trade related research results and publications;
Interact with researchers, business and industry groups, state and federal agencies,
and policymakers to examine and discuss agricultural trade policy questions.
Programs in the IATPC have been organized around five key program areas.
Risk Management and Capital Markets
Regulatory Policy and Competitiveness
Demand Systems and International Trade
State and Local Government Policy and Agricultural Competitiveness.
There are 10 faculty from the Food & Resource Economics Department who conduct
research in these program areas for the IATPC. Each of these program areas has a set of
projects that have been undertaken to address these critical areas of need. Faculty have
acquired additional grant funds of more than one million dollars over the last three years
to augment these programs.
COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF A WTO DISPUTE
Josyline Javelosa* and Andrew Schmitz*
Since the WTO's inception in 1995, the number of cases it has dealt with has exceeded
the number of disputes under the GATT. This suggests that Members have found the WTO
dispute settlement system a useful means to pursue their interests. In this paper, we analyze an
ongoing WTO dispute to illustrate the economic and political costs and benefits that accrue to
parties when they engage themselves into the formal dispute process. We draw on the Philippine-
Australian case, which challenges the latter's quarantine policy on fresh fruit and vegetables, to
understand further how the WTO dispute settlement system affects state behavior and litigation
patterns. This particular case is also of keen interest to a number of countries, including the EC,
US, Canada, Ecuador, Thailand, China, India and Chile.
Keywords: WTO dispute settlement, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, banana, cost-benefit
* Food and Resource Economics Ph.D. student and Fulbright fellow, University of Florida, USA. I was involved in
the 'pre-WTO phase' of this case as a Philippine Department of Agriculture officer dealing with international trade
policy prior to my study leave in July 2001. I am thankful to Prof. Stephen Powell, Lecturer in Law and Director,
International Trade Law Program, Levin College of Law, University of Florida, for his comments and stimulating
seminar on international dispute settlement that has led us to writing this paper.
*Ben-Hill Griffin, Jr. Eminent Scholar and Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of
COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF A WTO DISPUTE
Josyline Javelosa and Andrew Schmitz
The number of cases filed in the first nine years of the WTO's operation1, which exceeds
the 2542 cases in the forty-seven years of the GATT (the WTO's predecessor), seems to indicate
that the dispute mechanism is a useful means to pursue WTO Members' interests. Since the
introductory essay3 of this journal raises the question on the future of WTO dispute settlement, it
is an opportune time to analyze a current case within its economic, political and legal context to
further understand why public officials resort to the WTO dispute settlement system in resolving
trade conflicts. We explore the ongoing Philippine-Australian case concerning the latter's
quarantine policy on fresh fruit and vegetables.4 This WTO dispute is interesting for at least four
reasons. First, it involves sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) concerns that have implications on a
country's systemic quarantine policy this means that any WTO ruling on the case will impact a
range of products, which makes the case of interest to a number of exporters of fresh fruit and
vegetable produce. The European Community (EC) is a co-complainant against Australia on
similar grounds that encompass a broader range of products, including live animals, meat and
meat products, and dairy products, among others.5 WTO members who reserved their rights to
become third parties to the case raised by the Philippines and EC against Australia were
1 The number of complaints submitted to the WTO from January 1995 to March 2004 totals 309. See 'Update of
WTO Dispute Settlement Cases', http://docsonline.wto.org/, WT/DS/OV/20.
2 As summarized in Chad P. Bown, 'The Economics of Trade Disputes, the GATT's Article XXIII and the WTO's
Dispute Settlement Understanding', 14(3) Economics and Politics 283 (2002), at 285.
3 Donald McRae, 'What is the Future of WTO Dispute Settlement?', 7 (1) JIEL (" '~14), 3-21.
4 WTO documents and other case references are summarized in Table 1.
5 'Dispute Settlement Body Minutes of Meeting,' http://docsonline.wto.org/, WT/DSB/M/156.
Thailand, Ecuador, China, India, Chile, Canada and the United States.6 Second, it is another case
that may further clarify the relatively new Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement)7. The four SPS-related disputes that have confronted
the SPS Agreement to date are EC-beef hormones, Australia-salmon, Japan-varietals, and
Japan-apples.8 Third, it engages another 'banana war' like the high profile US-EC dispute on the
sale of bananas into the EC market involving multinational companies. The interests of Chiquita
Brands International, Inc. and Dole Food Company, Inc. were advanced by the US in its dispute
with the EC9. These same companies, through Dole Philippines, Inc., Tagum Agricultural
Development Company (TADECO) established by Chiquita (United Brands) and Del Monte
Fresh Produce (Philippines), Inc. are the multinationals10 who have business interests on the case
brought by the Philippines to the WTO. Fourth, it is a complaint raised by a developing country
against a developed economy who is in the forefront of advocacy for free trade in agriculture11.
Our case study estimates the economic payoffs both the Philippines and Australia may
obtain upon a potential change in the trade measure being challenged, particularly Australia's
quarantine policy on Philippine bananas. We also highlight the role of rent-seeking behavior
6 'Dispute Settlement Body Minutes of Meeting,' http://docsonline.wto.org/, WT/DSB/M/153 and WT/DSB/M/157.
7 GATT Secretariat, The Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, the Legal Texts (Geneva
8 As of 26 March 2004, these are the 4 SPS cases that necessitated panel and appellate body rulings. See above nl
for a listing of all WTO cases with adopted panel and appellate body reports.
9 John Stovall and Dale Hathaway,'US Interests in the Banana Controversy' in Timothy Josling and Timothy Taylor
(eds.), 'Banana Wars:The Anatomy of A Trade Dispute', (Cambridge, MA: CABI Publishing 2003), 151-167.
10 The Philippines started exporting bananas in the late 1960s upon the establishment of plantations by multinational
companies. See 'Banana Production in the Philippines', as part of Macquire University's Human Geography
resource set available at http://www.es.mq.edu.au/humgeog/Bananas/farm study.htm, authorized by Prof. Robert
1 Australia leads the Cairns Group (CG) of 17 countries who account for one-third of the world's agricultural
exports. Since it formed in 1986, the CG has succeeded in putting agriculture on the multilateral trade agenda and
keeping it there. The Cairns Group is an excellent example of successful coalition building in the trade area. By
acting collectively it has had more influence and impact on the agriculture negotiations than any individual members
could have had independently. Members of the Group are: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile,
Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, the Philippines, South Africa,
Thailand and Uruguay. See, http://www.cairsgroup.org/.
among interest groups in influencing state decisions regarding border disputes and discuss the
stakes on a country's reputation when they engage in legal disputes to challenge or defend trade
measures. An assessment of litigation costs is also undertaken to complete the cost-benefit
analysis. With this information on the likely scope and extent of payoffs from formally taking a
case into the WTO's jurisdiction, we discuss how these payoffs, attainable within the legal
borders of the dispute settlement system, including other factors proposed by some theories in
the literature, may influence state behaviors and litigation patterns. We then infer directions for
the future of WTO dispute settlement.
II. THE SPS DISPUTE OVER FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
A. Chronology of the Case
Table 1 briefly lays out the sequence of events pertaining to the Philippine-Australian
case over fresh fruit and vegetables. On 29 August 2003, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)
agreed to establish a panel that would rule on the complaint raised by the Philippines regarding
Australia's import measures on fresh fruit and vegetables, including fresh bananas, plantains and
fresh papayas. The Philippines argues that the measures imposed by Australia had, for a long
time, effectively prevented access of the Philippines' exporters of these products into the
Australian market, and that despite continued and persistent efforts, including bilateral
discussions and exchanges of information, aforementioned products continued to face
unreasonable restrictions. Import requests for Philippine fresh papaya fruit have been made
pre-1994 and those for fresh plantain and banana in 1995. Bilateral discussions on this issue have
commenced since then and various fora such as the Joint Philippine-Australian Bilateral
Committee and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australian dialogue have been
utilized in order to reach a mutually acceptable solution. Having failed to resolve these issues in
about 7 years, the Philippines decided to raise this matter within the WTO's jurisdiction when it
requested consultations with Australia on 18 October 2002. Philippine consultations (joined by
Thailand and the European Communities) with Australia were held on 15 November 2002;
however, since the dispute was not settled, a panel was requested by the Philippines to examine
the matter. China, EC, Ecuador, India, Thailand, US and Chile reserved their third party rights to
TABLE 1 appears here
Subsequently, the DSB in its meeting of 07 November 2003 also agreed to establish a
panel requested by the European Communities (EC) to rule on Australia's quarantine regime for
imports, particularly of live animals, dead animals and animal parts, meat and meat products,
dairy products, bee products, living plants, seeds, plant parts, and fresh fruits and vegetables. EC
consultations (joined by Canada, Chile, India and the Philippines) with Australia on 08 May
2003 failed to resolve the dispute. Although Australia was entitled to prevent the establishment
of a panel in this meeting, it accepted the panel establishment given the existence of a decision to
establish a panel to examine a similar complaint, i.e. the case raised by the Philippines.
Australia's acceptance of panel establishment was in view of facilitating the application of
Article 9 of the WTO Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of
Disputes (Dispute Settlement Understanding [DSU]), i.e. procedures for multiple complainants.
Australia, however, questions the EC's motivation for its request because, to a large extent, it
was not about commercial considerations. For a number of products referred to in the request,
Australia had no record of Member States of the EC having expressed any export interest to
Australia. Countries who have reserved their third party rights to the dispute were Canada, Chile,
China, India, Philippines, Thailand and the US.
Up to the time of this writing, no panel has been composed to examine the Philippine-
Australian case. The Philippines, in coordination with the EC, is still in the process of crafting
the panel's terms of reference.12 Meanwhile, Australia has revised its 1998 administrative
process of conducting Import Risk Analysis (IRA) in 200313 based on Biosecurity Australia's14
experience with IRA, the results of relevant parliamentary reviews, advice from Quarantine and
Exports Advisory Council (QEAC) and comments from stakeholders. In addition, Australia also
issued a revised draft of its import risk analysis (IRA) on the importation of fresh bananas from
the Philippines on February 200415. This revised draft was issued as a consequence of the felt
need to make significant changes to the analysis reported in the June 2002 draft IRA report16 in
view of stakeholder17 submissions, reports, and technical information available to the import risk
analysis team. In sum, this revised draft recommends that importation of fresh hard green
12 Article 6.2 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) provides
that in case the applicant requests the establishment of the panel with other than standard terms of reference, the
written request shall include the proposed text of special terms of reference. The standard terms of reference of
panels is as follows: To examine, in the light of the relevant provisions in (name of the covered agreement (s) cited
by the parties to the dispute), the matter referred to the DSB by (name of party) in document...and to make such
findings as will assist the DSB in making the recommendations or in giving rulings provided for in that/those
agreements (s).' Above n7, at 410.
13 See, 'AQIS Import Risk Analysis Process Handbook 1998' and 'Import Risk Analysis Process Handbook 2003,'
14 Biosecurity Australia is a major operating group within the Australian Government Department of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Forestry. It is responsible for import risk analyses (IRAs) and assessments of quarantine risks
associated with commodity and germplasm imports, as well as technical negotiations on export market access issues.
It also works with other relevant agencies to address Australia's participation in international standard setting
organizations and WTO activities with respect to sanitary and phytosanitary measures. See, 'Who we are/What we
do' at http://www.affa.gov.au.
15 See, 'Bananas from the Philippines Revised Draft IRA Report, February 2004', at http://www.affa.gov.au.
16 See, 'Bananas from the Philippines Draft IRA Report, June 2002' at http://www.affa.gov.au.
17 Ibid. Twenty submissions were received by Biosecurity Australia on the June 2002 Draft IRA, including
substantial comments from the Philippine Government and industry, the Australian Banana Growers' Council
(ABGC) and the Western Australian Government.
bananas from the Philippines be permitted subject to certain conditions. Australia invites
comments on this revised draft and has posed a deadline of 23 April 2004 for submissions to
Biosecurity Australia. The Final Report will take into account any comments received on the
draft as well as any new information that may come to hand, and Australia will open this for
appeal for a period of 30 days after its release. On the other hand, no import risk analysis for
Philippine fresh papaya and plantain has yet been initiated by Australia.
Meanwhile, the new banana IRA draft "sparked outrage from the Australian Banana
Growers Council (ABGC), motivated banana workers and concerned citizens to hold a noisy
rally in Cairns on 05 March 2004"18. The ABGC were of the opinion that the new draft IRA
watered-down Australia's conservative quarantine standards. On 17 March 2004, Biosecurity
Australia reveals that a correction on the February 2004 draft will have to be issued in view of a
transcription error in the electronic spreadsheet used in the estimation of risk for this particular
IRA19. Another 60-day comment period will be elicited from the date of the release of the
addendum containing the correction.
B. The Basis of the Philippine Complaint20
Table 2 enumerates the GATT provisions the Philippines invoked against Australia's
quarantine measures. At question in this dispute are Australia's quarantine measures on fresh
fruit and vegetable imports, including fresh banana fruit, fresh papaya fruit and fresh plantain
18 'Scientific Criticism at the Heart of Biosecurity Australia Report,'Media Release, 08 March 2004 at
19' Plant Biosecurity Policy Memorandum 2004/07' at http://www.affa.gov.au.
20 This section draws from the Philippines' request to establish a WTO panel (WT/DS270/5/Rev.1 at
hup %\%\%\.docsonline.wto.org/). Through a reading of the Philippine complaint from an outside observer's
perspective, the authors attempt to elaborate on the issues raised by the Philippines and relate them with Australia's
measures and obligations of Members in the WTO. The questions raised on particular Australian measures
elaborated on by the authors, although based on the Philippine request for a panel, may not necessarily be the
specific arguments of the Philippines.
from the Philippines. Australia implements an a priori prohibition on importation of fresh fruits
and vegetables. In particular, Section 64 of Australia's 1998 Quarantine Proclamation sets out
that "the importation into Australia of a fresh fruit or vegetable is prohibited unless the Director
of Quarantine has granted the person a permit to import it into Australia." The Philippines seeks
examination by the panel of this a priori mandatory prohibition and the procedures and criteria
applied for deciding whether or not to grant a permit for importation of fresh fruit and
Table 2 should appear here.
Under the SPS Agreement, SPS measures21 need to protect against either (1) so-called
'food-borne' risks (human or animal life or health) or (2) pest-or disease-related risks (human,
animal or plant life or health).22 For the SPS Agreement to apply, these measures also need to
'directly or indirectly' affect international trade.23 Since Australia's import regime falls under the
foregoing criteria, it has to be bound by the WTO requirements governing SPS measures as
outlined in the SPS Agreement. The Philippines claims that Australia has violated several
provisions of the SPS agreement24 in particular those that require SPS measures to be based on
1) a risk assessment taking into account various factors (Article 5); 2) sufficient scientific
evidence (Article 2.2); 3) international standards (Article 3); 4) regional conditions (of both
21 For a specific measure to be viewed as an 'SPS measure' it should have been enacted with a view to protect
human, animal or plant life or health (SPS Agreement Annex A. 1, above n7, at 78).
22 Joost Pauwelyn, 'The WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures As Applied in the First
Three SPS Disputes' 2 (4) JIEL 641 (1999), at 643-44.
23 SPS Agreement Article 1.1, above n7, at 70.
24 See, for example, Pauwelyn, above n22 for a more detailed discussion of WTO obligations under the SPS
Agreement including interpretations in case law and panel and appellate body rulings on the first three SPS cases i.e.
beefhormones, Australia-salmon and Japan-varietals.
regions of origin and destination), including pest or disease free areas and low pest or disease
prevalence (Article 6); and 5) the principle of non-discrimination (Articles 2.3, 5.5).
The product with which the Philippines has obvious economic interest is fresh banana
fruit. However, it framed its complaint not only on the basis of the on-going risk analysis on
bananas but on the more encompassing regulation on all fresh fruit and vegetables. The papaya
fruit and plantain, for instance, had pending import requests since 1994 and 1995, respectively.
However, almost a decade has lapsed and no import risk analysis has yet been initiated. Potential
questions that could be raised are as follows: Is Australia's import ban on papaya fruit and
plantain justified when no risk analysis for these products has begun? Does this import ban meet
the requirements of a WTO-consistent SPS measure as outlined above? If Australia argues that
this import ban is only a provisional measure (Article 5.7) on the basis of insufficient scientific
evidence, is 9-10 years a 'reasonable period of time'25 for maintaining this ban?
It is also significant to question how different Australia's situation is from the markets of
other Philippine banana importing countries such as Japan, who is known to generally have high
standards for its quarantine measures. Japan's imports of bananas are overwhelmingly26 from the
Philippines, and these are subjected to the intricate provisions of Japan's Plant Protection Law
and Food Sanitation Law.27
The tact taken by the Philippines to encompass the quarantine policy on all fresh fruit and
vegetables in its complaint (which Australia views as a broad systemic challenge that strikes at
25 Article 5.7 of the SPS Agreement reads: In cases where relevant scientific evidence is insufficient, a Member
may provisionally adopt SPS measures on the basis of available pertinent information, including that from the
relevant international organizations as well as SPS measures applied by other Members. In such circumstances,
Members shall seek to obtain additional information necessary for a more objective assessment of risk and review
the SPS measure accordingly within a reasonable period of time.', above n7 at 73.
26 In 2002, 79.4% of Japan's banana imports come from the Philippines. See JETRO (Japan External Trade
Organization) 2003 Marketing Guidebook for Major Imported Products: Fresh Fruits',
lhp \ \ \ .ietro.go.ip/ec/e/market/mgb/data e/1/10.pdf, at 4.
27 Ibid. See the regulations and procedural requirements for the importation of fresh fruits, including bananas, at 5-
the fundamental right of WTO Members to have quarantine regulations28) seems to provide a
broader basis to show not only violations on the conduct of risk assessments or the use of
sufficient scientific evidence, international standards, or adaptation to regional conditions with
low disease and pest prevalence as bases for its measure but, in addition, that there has been
discrimination between situations and products.
Prior to invoking the SPS provisions, the Philippines, in its complaint, also invoked
GATT Article XI. 129 and the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures (Articles 3.5f and 3.2).
Here the Philippines essentially seeks the panel's ruling on whether Australia's measure is a
violation of its obligation to generally eliminate import restrictions. It also seems to pose the
following queries: If Australia's administrative process in the conduct of import risk analysis
falls under the definition of non-automatic import licensing (Article 1.130 and 3.131), has it met
the exception to the requirement of observing a 30 or 60-day period for processing applications
stipulated in Article 3.5(f)32 in the case of papaya, plantain or banana? Are there justified reasons
outside the control of Australia to warrant an exception? Is the administrative process for
28 See, 'Dispute Settlement Body Minutes of Meeting,' www.docsonline.wto.org/, WT/DSB/M/155.
29 GATT Article XI. 1 reads: "No prohibitions or restrictions other than duties, taxes or other charges, whether made
effective through quotas, import or export licenses or other measures, shall be instituted or maintained by any
contracting party on the importation of any product of the territory or any other contracting party or on the
exportation or sale for export of any product destined for the territory of any other contracting party.", above n7, at
30 Article 1.lof the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures reads: 'For the purpose of this Agreement, import
licensing is defined as administrative procedures used for the operation of import licensing regimes requiring the
submission of an application or other documentation (other than that required for customs purposes) to the relevant
administrative body as prior condition for importation into the customs territory of the importing Member.', above
n7, at 255-56.
31 Article 3.1 of the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures reads: 'Non-automatic import licensing procedures
are defined as import licensing not falling within the definition contained in paragraph 1 of Article 2 (which reads:
Automatic import licensing is defined as import licensing where approval of the application is granted in all
cases...).', above n7, at 257-58.
32 Article 3.5(f) of the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures reads: 'the period for processing applications
shall, except when not possible for reasons outside the control of the Member, not be longer than 30 days if
applications are considered as and when received, i.e. on a first-come first served basis, and no longer than 60 days
if all applications are considered simultaneously.', above n7, at 259.
granting import permits not trade-restrictive and not more administratively burdensome than
absolutely necessary to administer (Article 3.233)?
On Australia's import risk analysis on bananas from the Philippines, potential questions
arise in examining how justified Australia's prescriptions are for managing risk with respect to
pests such as Moko (banana wilt), freckle and 2 species of mealy bugs. In order to meet
Australia's allowable level of protection (ALOP), the measures it identified to manage potential
risks from Moko, for example, requires that the source of imports should be from an Australian
approved plantation in an area of low pest prevalence (ALPP) with a low pest prevalence (LPP)
of Moko. The LPP level should not exceed .005 cases (infected mats) per hectare per week,
which is about 1 case per 4 hectares per year, i.e. no more than 6,800 infected plants per year.
This level should be demonstrated by weekly surveys over a minimum of 2 years immediately
preceding harvest of fruit intended for export to Australia. If the prevalence of Moko exceeded
the set LPP level, the affected area would be suspended for a minimum of 2 years. Has
Australia's ALOP taken into account as relevant economic factors: the potential damage in terms
of loss of production or sales in the event of an entry, establishment or spread of a pest or
disease; the costs of control or eradication in the territory of the importing Member; and the
relative cost-effectiveness of alternative approaches to limiting risks as called for by Article 5.3
of the SPS agreement? Isn't there an alternative measure which could meet Australia's ALOP
which is less trade restrictive and more technically and economically feasible as espoused by the
SPS Agreement's Article 5.6?
33 Article 3.2 of the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures reads: 'Non-Automatic licensing shall not have
trade-restrictive or distortive effects on imports additional to those caused by the imposition of the restriction. Non-
automatic licensing procedures shall correspond in scope and duration to the measure they are used to implement,
and shall be no more administratively burdensome than absolutely necessary to administer the measure.' above n7
The foregoing questions are potential challenges for Australia and the WTO panel. As for
the WTO panel, if Australia, in taking account of economic factors, finds that the potential
damage or lost sales due to the spread of pests and diseases is outweighed by the economic gains
from importation, will Australia be obliged to relax its ALOP?
III. THE PAYOFFS OF THE WTO TRADE DISPUTE
In this section we provide, among other things, an economic assessment of lifting
Australia's import restriction on bananas, assuming no pests and diseases are brought into
Australia by these imports. In the analysis, we will find that the net economic welfare gains for
both the Philippines and Australia in this scenario are not negligible. However, certain groups
will lose from opening up the Australian banana market.
We can categorize the relevant payoff components of the parties to the dispute as: 1)
directly trade-related economic gains and losses; 2) political gains and losses; and 3) litigation
costs34. We refer to trade-related gains and losses as the economic welfare benefits and costs a
party to the dispute incurs as a result of a change in a trade-related measure. In this case, this
pertains to the removal or modification of Australia's import restriction on fresh fruit and
Political gains and losses associated with the case depend on the nature and size of the
dispute, as well as on the country's size and political structure (e.g. the importance of interest
groups, re-election procedures). In this study, we will discuss the political dynamics, which may
34 Monika Butler and Heinz Hauser, in 'The WTO Dispute Settlement System: A First Assessment from an
Economic Perspective', 16 (2) The Journal of Law, Economics and Organization 503 (2000), at 511-514, instead
refers to this paper's political payoffs as 'reputation-related' payoffs.
have influenced the case to be raised in the WTO. Political and legal scientists, e.g. Jackson35,
especially emphasize the importance of reputation-related payoffs in WTO disputes. Agricultural
economists, e.g. Bredahl, et. al.36, Schmitz37, Picketts, et.al.38, have also documented the role of
agricultural interest groups in border disputes. While freer trade for agriculture may be in the
public economic interest, any reform towards further trade liberalization would involve gainers
and losers. Those special interest groups who would lose from the policy change will clearly
attempt to block the reform. As the theory of public choice39 suggests, although public officials
are expected to pursue the 'public interest,' first-best policies are not usually practiced because
there is no direct reward to the politician for fighting powerful interest groups in order to confer
benefits on a public that may not even be aware of the benefits or of who conferred them. Thus,
the incentives for good management in the public interest are weak. In contrast, interest groups
are organized by people with very strong gains to be made from governmental action. They
provide politicians with campaign funds and campaign workers. In return they receive at least
the 'ear' of the politician and often gain support for their goals.
Litigation costs refer to the legal and organizational costs of engaging into the WTO
dispute settlement system. These include lawyers' and consultants' fees, and the time invested by
government officials and private industry on the case.
35 John H. Jackson, 'Designing and Implementing Effective Dispute Settlelement Procedures: WTO Dispute
Settlement, Appraisal and prospects,' in Anne O. Krueger,ed.,'The WTO as an International Organization,
(Chicago:University of Chicago Press),193-213 (as cited in Butler and Hauser, above n 34).
36 Maury Bredahl, Andrew Schmitz, and Jimmye Hillman,'Rent Seeking in International Trade: The Great Tomato
War', 69 (1) American Journal of Agricultural Economics (1987), 1-10.
7 Andrew Schmitz, GATT and Agriculture: The Role of Interest Groups,' 170 (5) American Journal of
Agricultural Economics (1998), 994-1005.
38 Valerie Picketts, Andrew Schmitz, and Troy Schmitz, 'Rent Seeking: The Potash Dispute Between Canada and
the United States', 73 (2) American Journal of Agricultural Economics (1991), 255-265.
39 See for example, Jane S. Shaw, 'Public Choice Theory,' The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics: Library of
Economics and Liberty, at http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PublicChoiceTheory.html.
A. Trade-Related Economic Impacts: A Welfare Analysis of Australia's Import Restriction
Section A of the appendix provides an overview of the Australian banana market and
gives the procedure used to calculate the welfare effects of relaxing Australia's challenged
import ban. Our results show that lifting Australia's import ban would allow imports of
Philippine bananas ranging from 77,000 -315,000 tons, depending on how responsive producers
are to price changes (See Table 3). Assuming that the proportion of marketing margins in 2003
that we used in the calculations hold, the Australian farm gate price will drop from 98 cents/kg to
70 cents/kg when imports come in at 85 cents/kg. This change will reduce producer welfare in
Australia ranging from 38-70 million AUD while consumer welfare substantially improves by
175 million AUD. Net economic welfare gains range from 105-138 million AUD; the upper
bound is a case where the import price would elicit a no production response by growers. These
estimates show (as in the case seven years ago40) that it is in Australia's economic interest to
remove the ban. In addition to these gains are those that could be obtained by wholesalers/
ripeners and retailers of bananas for an expanded demand for their services (not quantified in our
simple model). If the import price increases by some 38.8 % (increasing the c.i.f. import price to
about 118 cents/kg), the net welfare gains from importing bananas will be cancelled out.
Table 3 should appear here.
Australian imports of Philippine bananas can increase Philippine banana exports by 6%-
25%. Section B of the appendix gives a profile of the Philippine banana market and shows the
40 See n3 of Appendix. James and Anderson's estimates of net welfare gains from lifting the import ban were
substantially greater than the authors' 2003 estimates. In their calculations, the consumer gain from removing the
ban is likely to far outweigh any loss to banana growers, even if pests and diseases would wipe out the industry.
Much of the difference lies on the import price used. If the import price of (James and Anderson's) 50 cents/kg was
used in this paper, the net welfare gains (given actual data on marketing margins) even exceed their computations,
which were based on assumed marketing margins.
calculations of potential benefits to the Philippines under a scenario where Australia would allow
free trade in bananas. Increased Philippine banana exports could translate to an increase in
producer surplus amounting to US$14 63 million41 (Table 4).42
Table 4 should appear here.
While these estimated welfare gains for Philippine producers are a minimum with respect to
potential fresh fruit and vegetable exports, these estimates are a maximum for the banana case.
The assumed scenario is that of a total lifting of the Australian import ban on Philippine bananas.
If Australia allows importation of Philippine bananas while imposing quarantine measures in
addition to what Philippine producers are already applying, the cost of these additional measures
will determine the extent to which economic benefits accruing to Philippine producers would be
diminished. As the cost of these quarantine measures increase, net welfare benefits are reduced.
For example, if quarantine measures increase the import price of bananas from the Philippines to
110 cents/kg, the new level of Australian imports will range from 18-285 thousand tons. These
amounts of imports translate to an increase in Philippine producer surplus of about US$3-57
million. On the other hand, the Australian economy, despite obtaining less consumer surplus
relative to the surplus that could be obtained from a full lifting of the ban, still stands to obtain a
net welfare gain of about 22-30 million AUD (See Table 3). The net gain to consumers from a
lower price obtained from free trade far exceeds the cost to domestic producers.
41 See also n18 of Appendix.
42 In the absence of studies looking into the effect of increased demand on Philippine export prices, we assumed that
a unit increase in quantity demanded will cause a unit increase in the Philippine export price for bananas. In
addition to farm-level producer gains, there will also be gains from the transport of bananas that is usually done
through independent reefer carriers or by the fleet owned by the multinational banana companies.
The economic welfare benefits foregone by the Philippines in view of Australia's ban
may conceptually be the basis for calculating trade damages in the WTO as the basis for
compensation or retaliatory measures (suspension of concessions)43 should Australia, for
example, resist to implement a panel ruling requiring it to lift the ban. However, rather than
using economic surplus measures, WTO arbitrators are predisposed to calculate trade damages
based on foregone revenues. Importantly, these tend to be greater than foregone economic
welfare benefits44. Should Australia fail to implement a ruling that requires her to allow
importation of Philippine bananas, a potential compensation amount could reach US$68
million45 (see Table 4). If Australia's imports had no price effect on Philippine banana exports,
the compensation value could be reduced to the amount of foregone revenues amounting to some
$14 $58 million. This amount could also be the basis for retaliatory measures. A potential
retaliatory measure could be the Philippines restricting cattle imports from Australia.
B. Political Gains and Losses: Reputation, Rent-Seeking and the Role of Interest Groups
The impetus for the complaint against Australia's import ban of fresh fruits and
vegetables emanates from the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA).
This group is composed of major banana industry players mostly affiliated with multinationals,
i.e. Dole Philippines, Inc., Del Monte Fresh Produce (Philippines), Inc. and Chiquita Brands
43 DSU Article 22 outlines the principles and procedures for compensation and suspension of concessions, above n7,
44 Jason Bernstein and David Skully, 'Calculating Trade Damages in the Context of the World Trade Organization's
Dispute Settlement Process.' 25 (2) Review of Agricultural Economics (2003)385-398. The hypothesis discussed
by Bernstein and Skully) is that arbitrators tend to use foregone revenues (which are generally higher than foregone
economic welfare gains) as the basis for calculating trade damages so that penalties can discourage future violations
of WTO law. Compensation must also be sufficient to induce injured parties to pursue compensation claims, but not
as great as to induce opportunistic, nuisance cases.
45 This is an estimate of the area under PwAQwQiBPi in Figure 2 of the Appendix.
International (through Tagum Agricultural Development Company).46 The current Secretary of
the Department of Agriculture, Luis P. Lorenzo, Jr. (from late 2002 until the present time)47 also
used to be the chair of the PBGEA, the chief executive officer and chair of family-controlled
Lapanday Foods Corporation from 1982 to 2002, and chair of Del Monte Philippines, Inc. from
1997 to 2002.48
Meanwhile, resisting changes to Australia's restrictive quarantine policy is the Australian
Banana Growers Council, Inc. (ABGC), the banana industry's peak national agro-political
organization representing 1,900 banana growers. It was established in February 1961 and on 31
August 1992 it took the initiative of creating a full-time National Secretariat based in Brisbane.
The current members of the ABGC are the Banana Industry Committee of New South Wales
(BIC) and Queensland Fruit & Vegetable Growers. The ABGC is funded by a 20 per carton
On the other hand, Australian dairy producers led by the Australian Dairy
Corporation50 (ADC) are seen as allies of Philippine banana producers. The Philippine Star51
reports that, in fearing that the Philippines, in retaliation to Australia's restrictive quarantine
policy, will make good its threat to ban Australian products from Philippine shores, the ADC has
urged its federal government to adopt a less rigid approach to the IRA being conducted by
Biosecurity Australia (BA). In a 2002 parliamentary hearing on the banana quarantine process
46 See above n10 for the multinational affiliations of Philippine banana companies and the Department of
Agriculture-Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Service's Banana Industry Situationer Report at
htp % \\ \ .philonline.com.ph/-webdev/da-amas/banana.html. for the listing of PBGEA members.
47 The Department of Agriculture, together with the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Foreign
Affairs, are the primary executive offices in charge of this WTO trade dispute in the Philippines.
48 Cyberdyaryo, 'Militant Farmers Give Cito Gawad Ipa', Press Release, 26 May 2003 at
hllp \\ \ .cyberdvarvo.com.
49 Australian Banana Growers Council, The Council' at .http://www.abgc.org.au.
50 On 1 July 2003, Dairy Australia replaced Australian Dairy Corporation (ADC) and Dairy Research and
Development Corporation (DRDC), assuming their functions other than the export control functions which returned
to Government, http://www.dairvaustralia.com.
51 Rocel Felix. 'Aussie Dairy Farmers Lobby for RP Bananas, Pineapples', The Philippine Star (30 September 2002)
at www.newsflash.org/2002/09/be/be002175.htm .
(this was prior to the complaint being filed in the WTO), ADC submitted its position stressing
that BA should 'consider that $364.4 million dairy earnings from the Philippines is worth much
more than the $321 million Australian banana industry. In 1999-2000, the Philippine Agriculture
Secretary (Edgardo J. Angara) has successfully pushed for the gradual phase out of live cattle
imports from Australia, forcing the latter to commit to allow the entry of bananas and pineapples
two years after the conduct of the IRA.
The Philippine government has pursued the case against Australia in the WTO as a means
to achieve economic ends. At the same time, this move harnesses the political support of banana
producers and other domestic producers in the country in general. Filing a complaint in the WTO
exudes an image of toughness and aggressiveness in pursuing economic goals. Winning the
dispute against Australia can showcase how trade liberalization initiatives through the WTO
Agreement can level the playing field between a developing country like the Philippines and a
richer country like Australia. The mere filing of the complaint in the WTO on the fresh fruit and
vegetable case stirs confidence of agribusiness firms, providing the impression that the
Philippine government is a reliable partner in promoting export interests. Even if the Philippines
loses the case, reputation gains as discussed above have already been achieved in the domestic
political arena. Despite a wide range of plausible factors affecting citizens' choices during
elections, we cannot discount the possibility that elevating this case against Australia in the
WTO has also served as a political tool in the campaign period for the national elections in May
2004. If the Philippines ends up with a losing case, we cannot, however, eliminate the possibility
of criticisms on how the case was handled52. At the international front, an image of toughness
might also help the Philippines as it embarks on WTO negotiations, particularly in agriculture.
52 Some militant farmer groups are already critical of the current Secretary of Agriculture. A farmer leader was
quoted as saying that the 'Secretary of Agriculture's programs only benefit big landlords and agro-corporations,
It is also interesting to note that, like the US-EU 'banana war', multinational corporations
play a role in the Philippine-Australian case. In Stovall and Hathaway's account of the US-EU
dispute on bananas, Chiquita Brands International, Inc. and Dole Food Company, Inc. had
opposing positions on the 'first-come-first-served' EU plan, and Chiquita's stance to oppose the
proposed EU regime had prevailed over Dole's interest53. The commentary also mentions a Wall
Street Journal article reporting that a former US trade negotiator in four previous administrations
(Christopher Parlin) was quoted as saying: "This is the classic example of 'money talks' in trade
and politics -- that in the last political campaign cycle, Chiquita's top executive and his financial
interests had contributed US$1.03 million to Republicans and US$677,000 to Democrats. Dole
by contrast gave US$134,000 to Republicans and US$25,000 to Democrats." In the Philippine
case, multinationals, i.e. Chiquita, Dole, Del Monte, have joined forces with local banana
growers in pushing its interests to further open foreign banana markets.
Australia has double-edged stakes in terms of politics. It has to balance the conflicting
interests of its domestic constituents (specially with forthcoming national elections late this year)
while maintaining its international standing as a lead advocate of agricultural trade liberalization.
If the WTO panel or appellate body rules against its measures and Australia doesn't comply, it
loses its moral authority to lead the Cairns Group in pushing for fairer trade rules in agriculture.
Australia also stands to lose the political support of sectors who may be affected by
compensation or retaliatory measures, while, of course, gaining the support of its local banana
growers. Allowing the WTO panel to decide on the case perhaps reduces the burden on Australia
while farmers receive a bunch of empty promises. His fanatical implementation of agricultural trade liberalization
and the rampant importation of agricultural products in accordance with World Trade Organization (WTO) policies
continues to inflict havoc to farmers' lives mainly for the benefit of US agro-corporations. We cannot expect a
Cabinet member who represents big agro-corporations to heed the demands of the poorest sector of the country.'See
Cyberdyaryo, above n 48.
53 See Stovall and Hathaway, above n 9.
to cave in to domestic rent seeking. If it loses the case, and complies with the WTO ruling,
Australia may still obtain reputation gains internationally, although at home, it may be criticized
for its failure to defend its quarantine measures. However, the political cost to Australian leaders
may somewhat be less if the WTO ruling mandates the policy change rather than if Australia
unilaterally relaxed its quarantine rules to allow Philippine banana imports. There is much
pressure for Australia to win the case so that it would not be perceived as 'one who does not
practice what it preaches' in terms of agricultural trade liberalization. If it is able to defend and
justify its quarantine measures within WTO rules, it maintains its status as an agricultural free
trade advocate while building up the political support of its domestic producers.
C. Litigation Costs
Governments and private stakeholders expend a substantial amount of time and effort
when WTO Members decide to go through the dispute process. The literature on the economic
analysis of (domestic) legal disputes that may also apply to WTO disputes, posits that the
outcome at trial (a win for plaintiff or defendant) is the result of a complex interaction between
the efforts that both parties put into trial and the underlying facts and law of the case 54. Since
there is an expectation to win when litigants decide to empanel, substantial effort will be put into
the case to meet this expectation. The efforts of parties can be measured for example by
expenditures on the trial.
Parties to the dispute must pay their lawyers and consultants to research and argue
the case. The Philippines is tapping the expertise of the Advisory Center on WTO Law
54 Robert D. Cooter and Daniel L.Rubinfield, 'Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes,' 27 (3) Journal of Economic
Literature (1989), 1067-1097.
(ACWL)55 to provide legal assistance. As an ACWL member, an initial estimated preferential
rate the Philippines has to pay for litigation is $150,000. No information on lawyers' fees was
obtained on the part of Australia, although one can expect that Australia will spend a
considerable amount on lawyers' fees56, as we will discuss later. Even if some governments have
in-house legal experts to do this job, an opportunity cost is associated with this resource.
Incumbent diplomats, government officials and staff are not being paid more when disputes
arise, but they use up substantial time and effort on the case, which may have to forego other
assignments. Diplomats may have to ensure that the dispute does not harm overall relations with
parties involved. Disputes are also tasks on top of attaches work in the WTO government
missions in Geneva, which take up much of their time and effort, instead of focusing on other
important work such as the ongoing agricultural trade negotiations. Government officials and
staff in the capital, in addition to their regular tasks, will also have to help out in the technical
details of the case and regularly liaise with private stakeholders. Private interest groups having
an interest in the case spend substantial time and effort to provide inputs and political pressure to
their governments, especially to the defendant government. The Australian Banana Growers
Council for example is devoting substantial resources in media releases, information
dissemination activities, rallies and campaigns to move against importation of Philippine bananas
and lobby hard with the Australian government7.
55 The Advisory Center on WTO Law (ACWL) is a public international organization independent of the WTO that
was established in 2001 to provide legal advice on WTO law, support in WTO dispute settlement proceedings and
training in WTO law to developing countries and customs territories, countries with economies in transition and
least developed countries, hup \ "\ \ .acwl.ch.
56 Kisanwatch, a public information website that monitors the impact of developments in world trade on Indian
agriculture and farmers' livelihoods, cites that international law firms dealing with WTO disputes (usually US-
based) charge anything from US $250 to $1,000 per hour in fees. See, 'Dispute Settlement in the WTO(2001),' at
Ihup \ \" \ .kisanwatch.org.
57 See, for example, Australian Banana Growers Council, "Scientific Criticism at the Heart of Biosecurity Australia
Report."Media Release, 08 March 2004 and 'Save the Aussie Banana' at http://www.abgc.org.au.
If the outcome of WTO litigations were only a function of effort, i.e. litigation costs, this
is where the poorer countries may have a disadvantage. An important problem increasingly
recognized, but still unresolved, is how to give poor developing countries an effective voice in
the negotiating process.58 Beyond the problems associated with insufficient domestic analytical
resources, most (poorer) countries simply do not have the resources to be adequately represented
in Geneva and in other venues where the negotiations occur. Most of the industrial countries
attend negotiations with a team of lawyers, economists and diplomats, whereas many of the
developing countries must rely by and large on one or two (if any) diplomats in Geneva, and
with many other tasks to undertake. For trade disputes, this is where co-complainants and third
parties may play a role in reducing the relative cost of litigation to the developing country
complainant while assisting in arguing the case.59
Another hypothesis in the economic analysis of (domestic) legal disputes literature which
may provide an indication of litigation costs in the Philippine-Australian SPS case is Perloff and
Rubinfield's suggestion60 that defendants typically have more at stake than plaintiffs because
defendants are likely to be involved in future litigation of the same type. In this situation, the loss
to the defendant is greater than the plaintiffs gain. The defendant will consequently choose to
spend more on trial than the plaintiff
58 Merlinda Ingco ed.. 'Agriculture, Trade, and the WTO,' (Washington D.C.: World Bank, 2003). Ingco mentions
this in reference to WTO agriculture negotiations in general. However, this point is likewise applicable to disputes,
perhaps to a lesser degree, if private sector stakeholders such as multinationals in this case could provide input and
59 No information however has been obtained by the authors as to how litigation costs for the Philippines may have
been reduced in view of having EC, for example as a co-complainant.
60 Jeffrey Perloff and Daniel Rubinfield, 'Settlements in Private Antitrust Litigation,' in Steven Salop and Lawrence
White (eds.), Private Antitrust Litigation, (Cambridge, MIT Press,1987), as cited in Cooter and Rubinfield, above n
IV. WHY ENGAGE IN WTO DISPUTES?
A. Economics and politics
The foregoing cost-benefit analysis suggests that Philippine producers and its society as a
whole stands to achieve economic gains from the WTO dispute process. On the other hand,
while Australia can also realize net economic gains from a potential change in its challenged
measure, producers will lose in the process. In such case, it is therefore not surprising if the
political clout of producers' groups outweighs the public's economic interests as explained by
the theory of public choice. Our study highlights that the interplay of economic and political
forces influences public officials' decisions in engaging in formal legal disputes. However
obvious as this may seem, we provide the following caveats. First, on the part of the
complainant, we have seen that litigation costs to pursue a WTO case can be substantial,
especially if we take into account how scarce resources are for a developing country. To achieve
the same potential market access gains, couldn't alternative means of increasing exports be
resorted to rather than going into the confrontational and costly means of WTO disputes? Would
it be a wiser use of resources if, instead, export promotion was done in other countries whose
current quarantine policy allow importation of Philippine fruit and vegetables in order to open
new markets or expand old ones? Assuming that both means may achieve the same market
access gains, it seems that the WTO dispute process is a more attractive recourse for state leaders
because of the political gains it could reap in the process (gains that would be absent or less if the
export promotion route was chosen). In addition, the private sector may also push for the WTO
route, because litigation costs are primarily shouldered by the state unlike if export promotion is
done; export promotion expenses may come out more from the pockets of private exporting
Second, on the part of the defendant, its decision to settle or proceed to the WTO panel
stage will depend on how large a value it places on its political interests over foregone economic
gains (particularly on the part of consumers) and international reputation costs from defending its
measure perceived by many as 'protectionist'. Australia's maintenance of its stringent quarantine
regulation may not be surprising and its likelihood is suggested by the economic theory of
regulation, sometimes referred to as 'capture' theory. Applied to technical trade barriers (or SPS
regulations), the theory suggests that when there is doubt about the merit of a technical
restriction, domestic interest groups will often succeed in obtaining protective decisions from
domestic regulatory agencies. 61
For both complainant and defendant therefore, we see how politics play a strong driving
force in the engagement of WTO disputes. If more weight were provided to economic
implications in dealing with challenged measures, perhaps, in cases such as this, lesser disputes
will develop within the WTO ambit. The reverse is implied when state leaders tend to put more
weight to political rents obtained from interest groups.
At any rate, cost-benefit analyses of a WTO case along the stages of the dispute system
can provide useful insights for government officials in their decision-making. The decisions
made are indications of public officials' objectives in pursuing the case and the weights or
'shadow prices' they place on the payoffs from the case. Perhaps, if such analyses were made
transparent and known to the public, economic interests may temper political decisions.
61 David Orden, 'Mexico-US Avocado Trade Expansion', Paper presented at the conference on 'Keeping the Border
Open' sponsored by the Policy Disputes Information Consortium, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, March 2002, available at
hup \ \\ \ .farmfoundation.org/flags/orden.pdf.
B. Time Factor
Attempts to settle this case bilaterally outside the WTO ambit have been made for about
7 years but have failed. Bringing the case to the WTO's jurisdiction somehow provides a definite
timeline to resolve the issue. If the Philippines had the panel composed at the minimum possible
time, the case could still continue62 for 1,181 days, or 3 years and 2 months, until the final
retaliation stage.63 Despite the seemingly long and tedious process, the WTO system can provide
a sense of definiteness on when the issue could be resolved, rather than if the case was outside
the WTO's jurisprudence.
Still, the length of time it takes to resolve WTO disputes through litigation, in addition to
the cost of litigating and the utility of solutions resulting from the application of the law whereby
one party wins and the other loses, have led to the questioning of the litigation model.64 In this
case for instance, the consultation stage seems redundant, because bilateral exchanges of
information have already been conducted prior to the complainant request to undergo
consultations with the defendant to formally invoke the WTO dispute process. Another stage in
the process which seems to only be "buying time" is the DSB meeting where the request to
establish a panel first appears in the agenda and the defendant has the automatic right to object to
the establishment of a panel. Subsequently, the panel gets to be established at the next DSB
meeting, unless at that meeting the DSB decides by consensus not to establish a panel.65
62 Guzman (see below n 67) notes that there are significant opportunities for delay in the dispute process, and from
the defendant' s perspective delay is desirable all else equal- because WTO rules permit the defendant to maintain
the disputed practice as the case is ongoing, political leaders continue to gain political and economic rents from the
activity, and there is no offsetting cost for losing defendants to pay damages for violative activities.
63 Authors' estimated timeline based on actual events, the DSU and WTO dispute settlement primer i.e. at
www.wto.org/english/thewto e/tif e/disp2 e.htm. Since the Philippines has not yet submitted the terms of reference
of the panel to date, 8 months after the DSB agreed to establish a panel, this timeline will extend depending on when
the panel is actually composed.
64 See McRae, above nl, at 9.
65 DSU Article 6.1, above n7, at 410.
C. Reducing the Political Burden for the Defendant
We have suggested that Australia may have chosen not to settle and proceed to the panel
stage because its domestic political gains must have outweighed the sum of litigation costs,
foregone trade benefits, international reputation loss and some domestic loss in political support
(e.g. other interest groups which may otherwise be affected). If the WTO panel or appellate
body, however, makes the ruling that Australia has to correct its quarantine rules, the 'domestic
unpopularity' is passed on to the WTO and less to the Australian government itself if it decided
to correct its rules unilaterally. In the same way, if the panel or appellate body rules in favor of
Australia where it can retain its rules, this could be less 'unpopular' to other interest groups such
as the cattle group since the Philippines will now have no legal basis to retaliate by restricting
Australian cattle imports.
D. Peer Pressure
WTO disputes are subjected to 'peer pressure' so that defendants are drawn towards
implementing WTO consistent trade measures while complainants are discouraged to raise
nuisance claims. As we have seen in this case, third parties have joined in with the Philippines,
increasing the pressure faced by Australia. Third parties (perhaps those who implement similar
measures, if any, as Australia) could also come forward to the defense of Australia. The system
therefore provides an 'international reputation' element in the payoffs that are taken into account
by countries when they decide to take on WTO disputes.
E. The Coase Theorem on WTO Litigation and Settlement
1. Optimism of litigants
One of the central claims in the law and economics literature on litigation and settlement
in the domestic context is that, in the absence of transaction costs and with symmetric
information, all cases will settle. This represents a simple application of the Coase theorem as
long as there are gains from settlement, the parties will reach an agreement to maximize their
joint gains 66
In the context of the Philippine-Australian dispute, we have seen from the economic
assessment in the previous section that there is a potential avenue to settle where both litigants
can jointly gain. However, their failure to settle may also be attributed to informational
asymmetries and transaction costs.
An information, or perhaps expectation, asymmetry is the optimism on the part of both
litigants. This is a commonly cited explanation for litigation and may apply in this case. The
Philippines may be expecting a favorable ruling from the panel. That is why it may refuse to
settle unless it receives concessions that are at least as valuable as the gains from the panel ruling
minus the litigation costs. On the other hand, Australia will not offer concessions greater than
what it expects to lose before a panel plus litigation costs.
It is interesting to note, however, that out of the 82 cases that have generated a panel
ruling (until July 2002), 90% have resulted in a complainant win.67
66 Andrew Guzman and Beth Simmons, 'To Settle or Empanel? An Empirical Analysis of Litigation and Settlement
at the World Trade Organization.' 31 The Journal of Legal Studies (2002).
67 Andrew Guzman, 'The Political Economy of Litigation and Settlement at the WTO,'Research paper No. 98
(2002) UC Berkeley School of Law Public Law and Legal Theory.at http://ssm.com/abstarct id=335924.
Guzman suggests that asymmetry in the payoffs from the panel ruling and asymmetry in the cost of delay contribute
to an explanation of the complainant win rate.
2. The nature of the dispute
Another reason for the failure to settle in this case could be the hypothesis68 which
suggests that WTO disputes involving discontinuous variables (e.g. health and safety regulations,
product classification issues, bans, absence of TRIPs69 required laws) that have an all or nothing
character will proceed to a panel more frequently than disputes involving continuous variables
(tariff, non-zero quotas, subsidies). This case may lend support to the hypothesis if the spread of
pest and disease comes along with Philippine banana imports, and the change in Australia's
quarantine policy may lead to costs that could outweigh trade gains. There is no direct way for
the Philippines to compensate for this eventuality. An analogy used is having a settlement range
of $120-$150 between parties who have only $100 bills and cannot make change. In this
situation they are not able to settle. In the Philippine-Australian fresh fruit and vegetable case,
however, we would argue that non-settlement is more a problem of asymmetric information or,
perhaps, expectation. Using the analogy, Australia's belief might be that the value of allowing
Philippine imports is a concession worth $200, when the Philippines believes it is only worth
$150 not needing any change. The $50 difference could be due to a difference in perception of
the quarantine level that would ensure that no pests and diseases would substantially affect
Australian bananas. Until this is resolved, the case couldn't settle.
F. No other legal recourse
More significantly, the WTO is the only legal recourse to contest trade protection and
assert a country's export rights. Import-competing domestic industries can always file a case
within their national jurisdictions to seek trade protection in the form of trade remedies such as
68 See Guzman and Simmons, above n 66.
69 TRIPs refer to Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights.
antidumping and countervailing duties, which are provided for by national laws70. However,
there are no such alternative legal avenues7 to protect the rights of importers and consumers
who may want to access better prices and a wider range of product choices from abroad. In our
sample case, Australian distributors and consumers of bananas are constrained to sources from
the domestic market when there are cheaper alternative sources of bananas elsewhere. These
distributors and consumers have no legal recourse within Australian law to challenge the national
quarantine regulation on bananas nor do they have the option to resort to the WTO since only
governments can file a complaint within the WTO dispute settlement system. Indirectly then, the
rights of Australian importers and consumers are 'fought' by the producers of an exporting
country, and the only legal instrument is the WTO. We can therefore foresee that as the clout of
consumers is strengthened through improved organization and as ownership of companies cross
national boundaries while vertically integrating their operations, we may see more WTO disputes
being invoked to promote export interests.
V. CONCLUDING NOTES
Our empirical inquiry of the ongoing Philippine-Australian SPS dispute attempts to help
illuminate why Member countries opt to take their trade policy disagreements into the WTO's
jurisprudence. Through an analysis of both economic and political payoffs associated with the
dispute, we have shown how rent-seeking behavior of interest groups can potentially overshadow
national economic interests. Despite the right of each WTO Member to defend its measure and
70 See for example, Stephen J. Powell, 'WTO and NAFTA Dispute Settlement for North American Agricultural
Trade,' in A. Schmitz, C.B. Moss, T. Schmitz and W. Koo (eds), International Agricultural Trade Disputes: Case
Studies in North America,' (University of Calgary Press, Calgary, Alberta, Canada 2004), which explains new
alternatives to national courts with respect to agricultural border disputes.
1 Competition policy and anti-trust regulations somehow address these consumer rights but only in a domestic
the automaticity of WTO dispute settlement where any WTO Member has the right to bring a
case to the WTO against another Member, this case study infers the need for more economic
assessments of trade disputes in guiding decisions of state leaders. The economic surplus
methodology used, despite its limitations and simplicity, is a useful tool in analyzing the trade
effects of potential policy changes. There may also be a need for more economics on import risk
analysis and trade policy decision-making, particularly for quarantine policies which are prone to
being used as protectionist measures, given that their implications are less transparent compared
to trade measures such as the tariff. Making such cost-benefit assessments known to the public
may also provide value in terms of underscoring public officials' accountability for both the
trade protection and promotion decisions they take. Further, it seems that the WTO dispute
settlement will continue to be utilized frequently by exporting countries since it is the only legal
mechanism available to further open markets. Potential importers have limited (or in some cases
no other) recourse within national jurisdictions to enforce the right to import.
Finally, in spite of our argument that provides conditions to the automatic right of
Members to file a case in the WTO, resorting to the rules-based institution's dispute process
provides some degree of predictability in terms of the timeline and discipline it espouses. It
provides a fighting chance for the 'small and weak' to argue a case against the 'big and strong', a
chance that could not have been provided otherwise in its absence. We provide another caveat
though -- it is most likely, however, that the interests fought by the 'small and weak' are those of
the 'big and strong' in their country.
Table 1. Chronology of the Philippine-Australian SPS Case
Date Event Reference*
Pre-1994 Fresh papaya import requests with Australia WT/DS270/5/Rev.1
1995 Plantain import requests with Australia -do-
1995 Fresh banana import requests with Australia -do-
1996-2000 Bilateral discussions WT/DSB/M/155
1998 Australia issues IRA Process Handbook Biosecurity Australia (n13)
2000 June Australia initiates IRA on Philippine bananas WT/DS270/5/Rev.1
2001-2002 Exchanges of information/bilateral discussion WT/DSB/M/155
2002 June Draft IRA Report on Philippine bananas Biosecurity Australia (n16)
18 Oct 2002 Philippine request for consultations in the WTO WT/DS270/1
15 Nov 2002 Philippines and Australia hold consultations WT/DS270/5/Rev.1
joined in by Thailand and the EC
07 July 2003 Philippine request to establish a panel -do-
21/23 July 2003 DSB considers Philippine request for a panel, WT/DSB/M/153
agreeing to revert to it
08 August 2003 Australia releases revised IRA Process Handbook Biosecurity Australia (nl3)
29 Aug 2003 DSB agrees to establish panel requested by WT/DSB/M/155
07 Nov 2003 DSB agrees to establish panel requested by WT/DSB/M/157
the EC on a similar issue
2004 February Revised Draft IRA Report on Philippine Bananas Biosecurity Australia (n15)
* WTO Documents (references starting with VVT) can be accessed from http://docsonline.wto.org;
Biosecurity Australia documents can be accessed through http://www.affa.gov.au.
SPS Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
IRA Import Risk Analysis
DSB Dispute Settlement Body
Table 2. The Issues of the Philippine-Australian SPS Case *
JAgreement/Article Invoked Subject
Article XI:1 General Elimination of Quantitative Restrictions
Agreement on Import Licensing
Article 3.5(f), 3.2 Non-Automatic Import Licensing
Agreement on Ihe Application of
Articles 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 Assessment of Risk and Determination of the Appropriate Level of
Annex A[ Definitions], para 4 of Risk Assessment
Agreement on the Application of
Article 2.2 Basic Rights and Obligations
Article 5.6 Assessment of Risk and Determination of the Appropriate Level of
Articles 6.1,6.2 Adaptation to Regional Conditions, Including Pest-or Disease Free
Areas and Areas of Low Pest or Disease Prevalence
Article 3.1 Harmonization
Article 2.3 Basic Rights and Obligations
Article 5.5 Assessment of Risk and Determination of the Appropriate Level of
Counterargument should Assessment of Risk and Determination of the Appropriate Level of
Australia invoke Article 5.7 SPS Protection (provisional adoption of SPS measure)
* Based on the Philippine complaint inclusive of the sequence of articles invoked (VVT/DS270/5/Rev.1)
Table 3: Economic welfare effects of lifting the ban on banana imports assuming no diseases are imported in Australia, 2003
With ban With lifting of import ban If import price increases due to
Index 2003,actual Supply Elasticity Assumptions: cost of quarantine measures
0.5 1 >3.570 0.5 1.0 >15.1441
Wholesale price (cents/kg) 118 85 85 85 110 110 110
Producer price (cents/kg) 98 70 70 70 91 91 91
Distribution Center price (cents/kg) 141 102 102 102 132 132 132
Retail price (cents/kg) 212 153 153 153 198 198 198
Consumption (kt) 276 315 315 315 285 285 285
Consumption per capital (kg) 14 16 16 16 14.3 14.3 14.3
Consumption expenditure, retail ($m) 585 480 480 480 564 564 564
Production marketed (kt) 276 237 199 0 267 258 0
Production value at farm gate ($m) 270 167 140 0 244 236 0
Imports (kt) 0 77 116 315 18 27 285
Imports ($m) 0 66 98 267 20 30 314
Self Sufficiency (%) 100 75 63 0 94 90 0
Change in consumer welfare ($m) n.a. 175 175 175 39 39 39
Change in producer welfare ($m) n.a. -70 -65 -38 -18 -17 -9
Change in net economic welfare ($m) n.a. 105 110 138 22 22 30
Remaining producer surplus ($m) n.a. 132 70 0 185 118 0
Table 4. Philippine Economic Surplus and Revenue Foregone Due to Australia's Import Ban on Banana Market
Index Scenario 1 /Aus. Supply Elasticities Scenario 2 /Aus.Supply Elasticities
0.5 1 >3.57 0.5 1 >15.441
Foregone Imports (kt) 77 116 315 18 27 285
Year 2002 level of Phil. 1,685 1,685 1,685 1,685 1,685 1,685
banana exports (kt)
% Increase in Export 5 7 19 1 2 17
Year 2002 Price/kt of Phil. 183,317 183,317 183,317 183,317 183,317 183,317
banana exports (US$ f.o.b.)
Expected Price Increase/kt 8,377 12,620 34,270 1,958 2,937 31,006
of Phil. banana exports due to
Increased Export Demand (US$ f.o.b.)
Foregone Economic Surplus (US$)** 14,437,950 21,996,771 63,142,502 3,317,335 4,989,221 56,663,834
Foregone Revenue (US$)** 14,760,471 22,728,740 68,540,070 3,334,960 5,028,877 61,082,252
Foregone Revenue (US$) *** 14,115,428 21,264,801 57,744,934 3,299,711 4,949,566 52,245,416
Scenario 1: Assumed c.i.f. import price in Australia is .87AUD/kg or US$666,514/kt
Scenario 2:Assumed c.i.f. import price in Australia is 1.10 AUD/kg or US$842,719/kt
* Assumes al% increase in quantity demanded raises the price on Philippine banana exports by 1%.
** Computes foregone revenue with a proprotionate increase in price (large country assumption for Australia)
*** Computes foregone revenue with no price change with increased demand for Philippine banana exports
(small country assumption for Australia).
Appendix: Welfare Effects of Lifting the Australian Import Ban on Philippine Bananas
We apply a standard comparative-static partial equilibrium approach for a single
commodity market in examining economic welfare effects of Australia's import ban. If the
Philippines and Australia settle at this stage or if the WTO panel or an appellate body rules that
Australia has to change its import policy, there will be gainers and losers from the policy change.
The economic surplus framework1 will be used in our analysis where changes in consumer and
producer surplus are calculated to obtain the welfare effects of a new trade regime. This
approach has been widely and legitimately used by economists to measure the impact of a policy
change. Models based on producer and consumer surplus are widely used for policy purposes
because they can be estimated using real world data.2
A. Welfare Effects of A Quarantine Policy Change on the Australian Banana Market
In this section, we examine Australia's banana market to determine the welfare
implications of lifting the banana import ban for producers and consumers. We estimate the
potential amount of bananas that Australia may import upon lifting the import prohibition and
conjecture that this is the amount of bananas that the Philippines may potentially export to
Australia. To date, no other banana exporting countries have existing import risk analysis
protocols with Australia.
1 For a detailed discussion of the economic surplus framework see, for example J Currie. J Murphy J. and Andrew
Schmitz, The Concept of Economic Surplus and Its Use in Economic Analysis' 81 (324)The Economic Journal
(1971),741-799 and Andrew Schmitz, H. Furtan, and K. Baylis, 'Theoretical Considerations', in 'Agricultural
Policy, Agribusiness, and Rent-seeking Behavior',(Toronto : University of Toronto Press 2002) :83-118.
2 Schmitz et.al., above nl, at 88.
In analyzing Australia's banana market, we build on the work of James and Anderson3. In
2003, Australia's cumulative average farm gate production is valued at 270 million AUD (a 35%
increase compared to the value in 1996, the basis of estimation by James and Anderson). This
banana production value is about 6% of ABARE' s4 forecasted $4.2 billion net value of total farm
output in 2004-20055. Approximately 95% of Australian banana production is on Cavendish
Figure 1 models the effects of lifting the banana import ban on the Australian market
when marketing margins are present at the wholesale, distribution center and retail levels. Sf is
the growers' supply curve, Dr is the retail demand curve, and Dd, Dw and Df are derived
demand curves at the distribution center, wholesale and farm-gate levels, respectively. The initial
equilibrium quantity is Qo where Df and Sf intersect. With that level of domestic production and
a ban on imports, the farm gate, wholesale, distribution center and retail prices are Pf, Pw, Pd
and Pr, respectively. Once imports are allowed, the wholesale price drops to the import price Pi
and the quantity available on the domestic market rises to Qd'. At that new equilibrium, the
farm-gate and retail prices are Pf and Pr' respectively and the quantity produced domestically
falls to Qs'6. The fall in producer welfare7 is given by area CDPfPf and the rise in consumer
welfare8 is given by BAPrPr'. The difference between these two areas is the net economic
welfare gain in the absence of externalities, in particular the importation of pests and diseases.
3 Sallie James and Kym Anderson, 'On the Need for More Economic Assessment of Quarantine/SPS Policies,' 42
(4) Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics (1998), 425-444. Another approach that may be used
for the economic analysis of quarantine policies is applied by Orden, see n61 of paper.
4 The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), is an Australian government economic
research agency noted for its professionally independent research and analysis.
5 'Agricultural Outlook to 2008-2009' at Imp \ \ \ .abare.gov.au .
6 The new distribution center price is not shown but this is the intersection point of line segment B-Qd' and Dd.
7 Producer welfare or surplus represents the gain to producers of being able to produce a certain amount rather than
8 Consumer welfare or surplus is viewed as the difference between the price which consumers would be willing to
pay rather than go without the product and that which the consumer actually does pay.
Figure 1 should appear here.
Data obtained or assumed to quantify the welfare impacts of the policy change include: 1)
price elasticities of banana demand and supply; 2) c.i.f. import price of banana; 3) the domestic
wholesale price with the existing regime of no trade; and 4) the domestic consumption with
autarky. We assume a -.5 long-run price elasticity of demand9. This is a more conservative
guesstimate (considering more fruit alternatives are available) than the -.33 short-run price
elasticity computed by Anderson in the early 1970s for the demand curve of bananas in Sydney.
For the long-run price elasticity of supply for bananas, we assume a .5 conservative lower bound
and a more likely 1.0 or more estimate10 .We use the actual 2003 c.i.f. import price of Philippine
bananas in New Zealand as an approximation of the potential import price in Australia,
amounting to .85 AUD/kg11. However, the economies of size in marketing and shipping costs
should ensure that Australia's import price is below that of New Zealand's. In 2003, for example,
New Zealand's actual banana imports from the Philippines were less than half12 of the potential
Australian imports if its import restriction is lifted. For prices along the marketing chain, i.e.
farm gate, wholesale, distribution center and retail prices, we used the mean of the Australian
banana industry's statistics for 200313. A note about the supply chain is that while 55% of all
fruit and vegetables are sold through two major supermarket chains, as much as 70% of all
bananas may be sold through these two chains. The consumption data of 275,945 tons of bananas
9 See James and Anderson, above n 3.
11 Data obtained from Statistics New Zealand, Overseas Trade Imports,2003. Exchange rate used for conversion
from NZ dollar to AUD is .881534, the 1st quarter 2004 average, obtained from www.x-rates.com.
12 2003 banana imports of New Zealand from the Philippines amount to about 36,042 tons (as obtained from
Statistics new Zealand).
13 Australian Banana Growers Council, 'Industry Statistics' at hulp \\ \ .abgc.org.au.
is the 2003 market throughput of the Australian banana industry. Virtually all bananas produced
in Australia are consumed within Australia (99.9%). Information supplied by the Australian
Banana Growers' Council indicates that only negligible quantities of Australian bananas are
exported, and that these are to a specialty market 14. Australia does not import bananas at all in
view of its stringent quarantine policy.
With these pieces of information, we can estimate production, consumption, trade and
welfare effects of moving from a ban to free trade in bananas assuming no pests and diseases are
imported. The calculations are shown in Table 3 and are discussed in Section IIIA.
B. Welfare Effects of Increased Exports on the Philippine Banana Market
In this section, we analyze the economic consequences to Philippine producers of
allowing banana exports to Australia. The Philippines produces about 1,254,000 tons15 per year
of Cavendish dessert bananas, most of which is exported. This amount is about 11% of the
world's Cavendish production. The bulk of Cavendish exports of the Philippines go to Japan.
The Middle East used to be the second largest importer of Philippine Cavendish bananas in
1991-1995. Now it is China, which occupies the second place in terms of volume of imports.
Other destinations of Philippine Cavendish are Korea, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and
Russia.16 The Philippines is one of the top banana exporters in the world. In 2002, it is the third
largest exporter, next to Ecuador and Costa Rica. The value of Philippine banana exports account
for about 16% of the country's total agricultural exports amounting to about US$1.6 billion a
14 See n 15 of paper.
15 1995-2000 average, FAO, 2001 as cited in n15 of paper.
16 PBGEA, 2001 as cited in n 15 of paper.
17 1995-2002 average, FAOstat data, 2004
The calculated Australian imports of Philippine bananas can increase Philippine banana
exports by 6%-25%. The demand curve for Philippine banana exports, EDi shifts outward to EDw
as shown in Figure 2, in view of this importation from Australia. The Philippines' FOB export
price is assumed to increase from Pi to Pw. This demand shift translates to additional producer
surplus amounting to US$15 59 million18 as shown in Table 4 and discussed in Section Iia.
Figure 2 should appear here.
18 This is an estimate of the striped area in Figure 2 within points ABPiPw. We assume that a 1% increase in
quantity demanded of Philippine bananas will raise its price by 1 %.
IDl T \ A
Q Q' @ o*ty
Figure 1: Welfare Effects of Lifting the Banana Import Restriction on the
Qi Q~ Quantity
Figure 2. Welfare Effects of Australian Imports on the Philippine Banana Export Market