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India appeals a WTO panel's decision over ICT import duties

India has filed an appeal in response to a decision made by the World Trade Organization's (WTO) trade dispute resolution panel that the import taxes it imposes on certain information and technology items are not in line with international trade standards.

The findings, conclusions, judgements, and recommendations of the panel have been appealed by India, who has asked the appellate body to “reverse, modify, or declare moot and of no legal effect,” according to a statement from the WTO.

It said that India has asked the Appellate Body to evaluate the legal interpretations and “errors of law” in the panel's findings.

The WTO dispute panel said in its findings dated April 17 that import taxes levied by India on certain information and technology items are against international trade laws.

The decision came as a result of a WTO dispute brought by the European Union, Japan, and Taiwan on these taxes.

India made the appeal to the WTO's appellate committee, which has last say in these types of trade disputes.

On April 2, 2019, the EU filed a complaint against India's imposition of import taxes on a variety of ICT items, including mobile phones and their components, base stations, integrated circuits, and optical equipment.

The EU had argued that several WTO rules seemed to be broken by the measures. Later, China Taipei and Japan also became involved in the conflict.

In accordance with WTO regulations, a WTO member or members may lodge a complaint with the Geneva-based global organisation if they believe that a specific trade action violates WTO standards.

The first stage in resolving a conflict is consultation between the parties. Either party may request the formation of a dispute resolution panel if they are unable to reach an agreement via dialogue.

The panel's decision or report may be contested before the WTO's appeals body. It's interesting to note that the appellate body is ineffective due to disparities in how member nations choose their representatives. With this body, there are already a number of outstanding conflicts. The US has been preventing the members' appointments.

There is now no Appellate Body Division available to handle the appeals, according to a statement from the WTO. “Given the ongoing lack of agreement among WTO members regarding the filling of Appellate Body vacancies, there is no Appellate Body Division available at this time to deal with the appeals,” the statement reads.

It would take more than a year to consider India's appeal, even if the body that serves as the ultimate arbitrator in such trade disputes began operating right away.

Trade experts say that if the appeal panel also rules against India's assistance measures, New Delhi would have to follow that decision and make the necessary adjustments to how it distributes such measures.

India filed an appeal last year against a decision of the WTO's trade dispute resolution panel that found the nation's domestic support policies for sugar and sugarcane to be in violation of international trade standards.

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