Washington International Law Journal


Ramón R. Gupta


In Japan—Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages, the Appellate Body of the WTO upheld the conclusions of a Panel report finding Japan's Liquor Tax Law in violation of Article Ill of the GATT 1994. Considering that Japan has agreed to comply with the ruling, the Appellate Body seems to have successfully dealt with the issue. Yet analysis of the case brings to question the Appellate Body's interpretations of law. Though the dispute settlement procedures of the WTO resulted from recognition of a need for predictability and security in international trade law, the Appellate Body's interpretations fail to provide such law. As this inadequacy is likely to continue, the Body's interpretative powers should be restricted. In compliance with a strict construction of Article IX:2 of the WTO Agreement, interpretations should be made by the more political and representative entities of the Ministerial Conference and the General Council.

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