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Powell Helping Resolve International Trade Dispute

Published: April 2nd, 2001

Category: News

Stephen J. Powell, director of the law school’s international trade programs, has become only the third American in the six-year history of the World Trade Organization to be named to a panel formed to resolve an international trade dispute. Powell was appointed by the Geneva-based WTO to serve on a three-member panel hearing issues on a trade conflict between Argentina and Italy. Serving with Powell will be Hugh McPhail, division director in New Zealand’s Ministry of Commerce, and Gilles Gauthier of the international trade policy division of Canada’s Department of Finance. “Because these panel decisions are now effectively binding on the litigants, WTO dispute settlement has become a more frequent alternative to arbitration or lawsuits to resolve international commercial disputes,” said law school Interim Dean Jon Mills. “This is quite an honor for Steve and the law school. The WTO’s stringent panel requirements for trade expertise and legal credibility confirms our confidence in his abilities to head our international trade programs.” Since formation in 1995 of the WTO, 68 panels have been convened to settle disputes. The two other Americans selected to serve on one or more of these are WTO experts John H. Jackson of Georgetown University Law Center and Robert E. Hudec of the University of Minnesota Law School. Another Florida attorney with WTO connections, James L. Bacchus, serves by appointment of the president and Congress as a founding member of the organization’s appellate body – referred to as “the supreme court of world trade.” Bacchus is managing partner of the Orlando office of the Florida-based law firm Greenberg Traurig. Prior to joining the law school faculty in January 2000, Powell served 17 years as chief counsel for import administration, the federal agency responsible for overseeing U.S. laws governing unfairly traded imports. He teaches international trade to law and business students, and conducts seminars on practical trade subjects for Florida attorneys and business executives. In the case on which Powell will be acting, the European Union alleges that Argentina’s imposition of antidumping duties on exports of ceramic floor tiles from Italy violates the WTO antidumping agreement negotiated by member nations. Dumping is international price discrimination – either selling below the cost of producing the item, or selling goods in an export market at a lower price than the product is sold in the home market. The panel’s decision in this case is expected to be issued this August. WTO panels in cases initiated by the United States have brought significant gains to Florida industries — including opening markets for Florida beef, citrus and high tech exports — as well as protecting intellectual property rights (patents and copyrights) of Florida companies.

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