The first WTO dispute of 2010 is, according to Simon Lester, a “classic de facto discrimination case.” The US complaint against the Philippines:
Distilled spirits produced from certain materials that are typically produced in the Philippines are taxed at a low rate. Other distilled spirits are taxed at significantly higher rates. The Philippines’ taxes on distilled spirits appear not to tax similarly imported distilled spirits compared to directly competitive or substitutable domestic distilled spirits. The taxes appear to be applied in a way that affords protection to the domestic products.
The Doha stall will likely last into 2011, so, as has been the case for a couple years, the WTO’s importance to the global trading system in 2010 will be its role in global trade governance and dispute resolution.