World Trade Organisation Current Affairs - 2019

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WTO gives US final authorisation to impose tariffs on EU products

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has given United States the final authorisation to impose tariffs on European Union (EU) products in retaliation for illegal subsidies given to Airbus. Earlier in October 2019, a WTO arbitrator gave US the green light to slap tariffs on US $7.5 billion worth of European Union imports.

The move comes as a landmark moment in the 15-year legal battle between Airbus and American plane-maker Boeing.

Key Highlights

WTO Ruling: WTO has found that both Airbus and its United States’ rival Boeing received billions of dollars of illegal subsidies in a pair of cases that have now run for nearly 15 years. An adjudication or arbitrators award in the Boeing case is due in 2020.

The arbitrator’s award, which is the largest in WTO’s history was rubber-stamped by the Dispute Settle Body (DSB) of WTO which is made up of representatives from its 164 members. At a special meeting, the WTO’s DSB cleared US to take countermeasures against EU and Airbus-producing countries Britain, Germany, France and Spain.

Proposed Tariffs: Even though United States have stated that it will impose a 10% tariffs on Airbus planes and 25% duties on a range of products, such as French wine, Scottish whiskies and cheese from across the continent which could be in place by 18 October 2019, but the EU officials are trying to reach a negotiated settlement with US so as to avoid escalating trade tensions that risk battering economies across the globe.

Parallel Dispute Over Subsidies: However, in case the negotiations fail to produce a deal, then EU will get the chance to impose its own WTO-approved tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. exports, after convincing WTO judges that Boeing had benefited from illegal US government subsidies for domination of the world aircraft market.

GI Tag: Kolhapuri chappals

The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM) has granted Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Kolhapuris, the ethnic leather chappal (footwear) to four districts in each state of Maharashtra and Karnataka. These 8 districts are- Kolhapur, Sangli, Solapur and Satara districts of Maharashtra and Belgaum, Dharwad, Bagalkot and Bijapur districts of Karnataka.

Kolhapuri Chappal

Uniqueness: These sturdy leather chappals are hand-crafted and tanned using vegetable dyes and the art of making them is passed down one generation to another.

History: As per GI application made by two states of Mharashtra and Karnataka, Kolhapuris can be traced back to 12th century when King Bijjal ruled Bidar (in Karnataka). King’s Prime Minister Vishwaguru Basavanna, wanted to create a casteless society and remove stigma attached to cobbler community, thus, the community embraced Lingayat faith and used its skills to start producing footwear that came to be known equally for its ruggedness and regal bearing.

‘Kolhapuri’ as a Brand was created only at beginning of 20th century when footwear began to be traded in Kolhapur (Maharashtra). Later, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur encouraged its production and 29 tanning centres were opened during his rule in Kolhapur.

Benefits of GI Tag

It will help artisans export these chappals and also tie up with e-commerce giants such as Flipkart and Amazon.

With GI tag now these local artisans get legal support. Thus, anyone who is going to copy this can be punished.

Significance of GI tag

Getting GI tag will open large markets, both domestic and international to artisans who produce Kolhapuris. Also, getting GI tag for Kolhapuri means that footwear produced only in these 8 districts will qualify to carry tag of being Kolhapuris.

What is Geographical Indications?

GI is used on products/items which have specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.

Validity: The tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.

GI India: Recently Union Minister of Commerce and Industry launched logo and tagline for Geographical Indications (GI) of India. The 1st product to get a GI tag in India was Darjeeling tea (2004).

The sui generis Act for protection of GI in India is Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act). This Act was enacted by India so as to comply with Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) by World Trade Organisation (WTO).