tutorial video tutorial video Discover the CiteMap in 3 minutes
Source(s) of the information:
Source(s) of the information:

Report of the Panel

CASES CITED IN THIS REPORT

Short TitleFull Case Title and Citation
Argentina – Financial Services Panel Report, Argentina – Measures Relating to Trade in Goods and Services, WT/DS453/R and Add.1, adopted 9 May 2016, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS453/AB/R, DSR 2016:II, p. 599
Argentina – Hides and Leather Panel Report, Argentina – Measures Affecting the Export of Bovine Hides and the Import of Finished Leather, WT/DS155/R and Corr.1, adopted 16 February 2001, DSR 2001:V, p. 1779
Argentina – Import Measures Appellate Body Reports, Argentina – Measures Affecting the Importation of Goods, WT/DS438/AB/R / WT/DS444/AB/R / WT/DS445/AB/R, adopted 26 January 2015, DSR 2015:II, p. 579
Brazil – Taxation Panel Reports, Brazil – Certain Measures Concerning Taxation and Charges, WT/DS472/R, Add.1 and Corr.1 / WT/DS497/R, Add.1 and Corr.1, adopted 11 January 2019, as modified by Appellate Body Reports WT/DS472/AB/R / WT/DS497/AB/R
Canada – Wheat Exports and Grain Imports Appellate Body Report, Canada – Measures Relating to Exports of Wheat and Treatment of Imported Grain, WT/DS276/AB/R, adopted 27 September 2004, DSR 2004:VI, p. 2739
China – Auto Parts Appellate Body Reports, China – Measures Affecting Imports of Automobile Parts, WT/DS339/AB/R / WT/DS340/AB/R / WT/DS342/AB/R, adopted 12 January 2009, DSR 2009:I, p. 3
China – Auto Parts Panel Reports, China – Measures Affecting Imports of Automobile Parts, WT/DS339/R, Add.1 and Add.2 / WT/DS340/R, Add.1 and Add.2 / WT/DS342/R, Add.1 and Add.2, adopted 12 January 2009, upheld (WT/DS339/R) and as modified (WT/DS340/R / WT/DS342/R) by Appellate Body Reports WT/DS339/AB/R / WT/DS340/AB/R / WT/DS342/AB/R, DSR 2009:I, p. 119
China – Rare Earths Appellate Body Reports, China – Measures Related to the Exportation of Rare Earths, Tungsten, and Molybdenum, WT/DS431/AB/R / WT/DS432/AB/R / WT/DS433/AB/R, adopted 29 August 2014, DSR 2014:III, p. 805
China – Rare Earths Panel Reports, China – Measures Related to the Exportation of Rare Earths, Tungsten, and Molybdenum, WT/DS431/R and Add.1 / WT/DS432/R and Add.1 / WT/DS433/R and Add.1, adopted 29 August 2014, upheld by Appellate Body Reports WT/DS431/AB/R / WT/DS432/AB/R / WT/DS433/AB/R, DSR 2014:IV, p. 1127
China – Raw Materials Appellate Body Reports, China – Measures Related to the Exportation of Various Raw Materials, WT/DS394/AB/R / WT/DS395/AB/R / WT/DS398/AB/R, adopted 22 February 2012, DSR 2012:VII, p. 3295
China – Raw Materials Panel Reports, China – Measures Related to the Exportation of Various Raw Materials, WT/DS394/R, Add.1 and Corr.1 / WT/DS395/R, Add.1 and Corr.1 / WT/DS398/R, Add.1 and Corr.1, adopted 22 February 2012, as modified by Appellate Body Reports WT/DS394/AB/R / WT/DS395/AB/R / WT/DS398/AB/R, DSR 2012:VII, p. 3501
Dominican Republic – Import and Sale of Cigarettes Panel Report, Dominican Republic – Measures Affecting the Importation and Internal Sale of Cigarettes, WT/DS302/R, adopted 19 May 2005, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS302/AB/R, DSR 2005:XV, p. 7425
EC – Bananas III Appellate Body Report, European Communities – Regime for the Importation, Sale and Distribution of Bananas, WT/DS27/AB/R, adopted 25 September 1997, DSR 1997:II, p. 591
EC – Bananas III Panel Reports, European Communities – Regime for the Importation, Sale and Distribution of Bananas, WT/DS27/R/ECU (Ecuador) / WT/DS27/R/GTM, WT/DS27/R/HND (Guatemala and Honduras) / WT/DS27/R/MEX (Mexico) / WT/DS27/R/USA (US), adopted 25 September 1997, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS27/AB/R, DSR 1997:II, p. 695 to DSR 1997:III, p. 1085
EC – Bananas III (Article 21.5 – Ecuador II) / EC – Bananas III (Article 21.5 – US) Appellate Body Reports, European Communities – Regime for the Importation, Sale and Distribution of Bananas – Second Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Ecuador,WT/DS27/AB/RW2/ECU, adopted 11 December 2008, and Corr.1 / European Communities – Regime for the Importation, Sale and Distribution of Bananas – Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by the United States, WT/DS27/AB/RW/USA and Corr.1, adopted 22 December 2008, DSR 2008:XVIII, p. 7165
EC – Hormones Appellate Body Report, European Communities – Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (Hormones), WT/DS26/AB/R, WT/DS48/AB/R, adopted 13 February 1998, DSR 1998:I, p. 135
EC – Poultry Appellate Body Report, European Communities – Measures Affecting the Importation of Certain Poultry Products, WT/DS69/AB/R, adopted 23 July 1998, DSR 1998:V, p. 2031
EC – Sardines Appellate Body Report, European Communities – Trade Description of Sardines, WT/DS231/AB/R, adopted 23 October 2002, DSR 2002:VIII, p. 3359
EC – Selected Customs Matters Appellate Body Report, European Communities – Selected Customs Matters, WT/DS315/AB/R, adopted 11 December 2006, DSR 2006:IX, p. 3791
EU – Poultry Meat (China) Panel Report, European Union – Measures Affecting Tariff Concessions on Certain Poultry Meat Products, WT/DS492/R and Add.1, adopted 19 April 2017, DSR 2017:III, p. 1067
India – Agricultural Products Panel Report, India – Measures Concerning the Importation of Certain Agricultural Products, WT/DS430/R and Add.1, adopted 19 June 2015, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS430/AB/R, DSR 2015:V, p. 2663
India – Autos Panel Report, India – Measures Affecting the Automotive Sector, WT/DS146/R, WT/DS175/R, and Corr.1, adopted 5 April 2002, DSR 2002:V, p. 1827
India – Quantitative Restrictions Panel Report, India – Quantitative Restrictions on Imports of Agricultural, Textile and Industrial Products, WT/DS90/R, adopted 22 September 1999, upheld by Appellate Body Report WT/DS90/AB/R, DSR 1999:V, p. 1799
India – Solar Cells Panel Report, India – Certain Measures Relating to Solar Cells and Solar Modules, WT/DS456/R and Add.1, adopted 14 October 2016, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS456/AB/R, DSR 2016:IV, p. 1941
Indonesia – Import Licensing Regimes Panel Report, Indonesia – Importation of Horticultural Products, Animals and Animal Products, WT/DS477/R, WT/DS478/R, Add.1 and Corr.1, adopted 22 November 2017, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS477/AB/R, WT/DS478/AB/R, DSR 2017:VII, p. 3131
Japan – DRAMs (Korea) Panel Report, Japan – Countervailing Duties on Dynamic Random Access Memories from Korea, WT/DS336/R, adopted 17 December 2007, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS336/AB/R, DSR 2007:VII, p. 2805
Japan – Semi-Conductors GATT Panel Report, Japan – Trade in Semi-Conductors, L/6309, adopted 4 May 1988, BISD 35S/116
Russia – Pigs (EU) Panel Report, Russian Federation – Measures on the Importation of Live Pigs, Pork and Other Pig Products from the European Union, WT/DS475/R and Add.1, adopted 21 March 2017, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS475/AB/R, DSR 2017:II, p. 361
Thailand – Cigarettes (Philippines) Panel Report, Thailand – Customs and Fiscal Measures on Cigarettes from the Philippines, WT/DS371/R, adopted 15 July 2011, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS371/AB/R, DSR 2011:IV, p. 2299
Turkey – Textiles Panel Report, Turkey – Restrictions on Imports of Textile and Clothing Products, WT/DS34/R, adopted 19 November 1999, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS34/AB/R, DSR 1999:VI, p. 2363
US – Anti-Dumping Methodologies (China) Panel Report, United States – Certain Methodologies and Their Application to Anti-Dumping Proceedings Involving China, WT/DS471/R and Add.1, adopted 22 May 2017, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS471/AB/R, DSR 2017:IV, p. 1589
US – Carbon Steel (India) Appellate Body Report, United States – Countervailing Measures on Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products from India, WT/DS436/AB/R, adopted 19 December 2014, DSR 2014:V, p. 1727
US – COOL (Article 21.5 – Canada and Mexico) Panel Reports, United States – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements – Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Canada and Mexico, WT/DS384/RW and Add.1 / WT/DS386/RW and Add.1, adopted 29 May 2015, as modified by Appellate Body Reports WT/DS384/AB/RW / WT/DS386/AB/RW, DSR 2015:IV, p.2019
US – Gambling Appellate Body Report, United States – Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services, WT/DS285/AB/R, adopted 20 April 2005, DSR 2005:XII, p. 5663 (and Corr.1, DSR 2006:XII, p. 5475)
US – Hot-Rolled Steel Panel Report, United States – Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Hot-Rolled Steel Products from Japan, WT/DS184/R, adopted 23 August 2001 modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS184/AB/R, DSR 2001:X, p. 4769
US – Poultry (China) Panel Report, United States – Certain Measures Affecting Imports of Poultry from China, WT/DS392/R, adopted 25 October 2010, DSR 2010:V, p. 1909
US – Shrimp (Ecuador) Panel Report, United States – Anti-Dumping Measure on Shrimp from Ecuador, WT/DS335/R, adopted on 20 February 2007, DSR 2007:II, p. 425
US – Shrimp (Thailand) Panel Report, United States – Measures Relating to Shrimp from Thailand, WT/DS343/R, adopted 1 August 2008, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS343/AB/R / WT/DS345/AB/R, DSR 2008:VII, p. 2539
US – Softwood Lumber IV Appellate Body Report, United States – Final Countervailing Duty Determination with Respect to Certain Softwood Lumber from Canada, WT/DS257/AB/R, adopted 17 February 2004, DSR 2004:II, p. 571
US – Stainless Steel (Korea) Panel Report, United States – Anti-Dumping Measures on Stainless Steel Plate in Coils and Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip from Korea, WT/DS179/R, adopted 1 February 2001, DSR 2001:IV, p. 1295
US – Tuna II (Mexico) (Article 21.5 – Mexico) Appellate Body Report, United States – Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products – Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Mexico, WT/DS381/AB/RW and Add.1, adopted 3 December 2015, DSR 2015:X, p. 5133
US – Tuna II (Mexico) (Article 21.5 – US) / US – Tuna II (Mexico) (Article 21.5 – Mexico II) Panel Reports, United States – Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products – Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by the United States, WT/DS381/RW/USA and Add.1 / United States – Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products – Second Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Mexico, WT/DS381/RW2 and Add.1, adopted 11 January 2019, as upheld by Appellate Body Report WT/DS381/AB/RW/USA / WT/DS381/AB/RW2
US – Wool Shirts and Blouses Appellate Body Report, United States – Measure Affecting Imports of Woven Wool Shirts and Blouses from India, WT/DS33/AB/R, adopted 23 May 1997, and Corr.1, DSR 1997:I, p. 323
US – Zeroing (EC) (Article 21.5 – EC) Panel Report, United States – Laws, Regulations and Methodology for Calculating Dumping Margins ("Zeroing") – Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by the European Communities, WT/DS294/RW, adopted 11 June 2009, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS294/AB/RW, DSR 2009:VII, p. 3117

ABBREVIATIONS

AbbreviationDescription
Accession Protocol Protocol on the Accession of the People's Republic of China to the WTO
COFCO China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation
DSB Dispute Settlement Body
DSU Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes
GATT 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994
MOFCOM Ministry of Commerce of China
NDRC National Development and Reform Commission of China
Non-STE Non-state trading enterprises
Schedule CLII China's Schedule of Concessions and Commitments on Goods
STEs State trading enterprises
TRQ Tariff rate quota
Vienna Convention Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Done at Vienna, 23 May 1969, 1155 UNTS 331; 8 International Legal Materials 679
WTO World Trade Organization

1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 COMPLAINT BY THE UNITED STATES

1.1.
On 15 December 2016, the United States requested consultations with China pursuant to Articles 1 and 4 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) and Article XXII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994(GATT 1994) with respect to the measures and claims set out below.1
1.2.
Consultations were held on 9 February 2017.

1.2 PANEL ESTABLISHMENT AND COMPOSITION

1.3.
On 18 August 2017, the United States requested the establishment of a panel pursuant to Article 6 of the DSU with standard terms of reference.2 At its meeting on 22 September 2017, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) established a panel pursuant to the request of the United States in document WT/DS517/6, in accordance with Article 6 of the DSU.3
1.4.
The Panel's terms of reference are the following:

To examine, in the light of the relevant provisions of the covered agreements cited by the parties to the dispute, the matter referred to the DSB by the United States in document WT/DS517/6 and to make such findings as will assist the DSB in making the recommendations or in giving the rulings provided for in those agreements.4

1.5.
On 1 February 2018, the United States requested the Director-General to determine the composition of the Panel, pursuant to Article 8.7 of the DSU. On 12 February 2018, the Director‑General composed the Panel as follows:

Chairperson: Mr Mateo Diego-Fernández

Members: Mr Stefán H. Jóhannesson

Mr Esteban B. Conejos, Jr

1.6.
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, the European Union, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Ukraine, and Viet Nam notified their interest in participating in the Panel proceedings as third parties.

1.3 PANEL PROCEEDINGS

1.7.
On 5 March 2018, after consultation with the parties, the Panel adopted its Working Procedures5 and timetable.
1.8.
In accordance with the timetable, on 3 April and 15 May 2018, the United States and China respectively submitted their first written submissions. On 29 May 2018, the Panel received third‑party submissions from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, and the European Union.
1.9.
On 9 and 10 July 2018, the Panel held its first substantive meeting with the parties. A session with the third parties took place on 10 July 2018, during which Brazil, Ecuador, the European Union, Japan, and Ukraine made oral statements. Prior to the substantive meeting, on 2 July 2018, the Panel sent the parties a list of questions for oral responses at the meeting. Following the meeting, on 13 July 2018, the Panel sent written questions to the parties and third parties. On the same date, the United States sent written questions to China. Responses to these questions were received by the Panel on 3 August 2018.
1.10.
On 24 August 2018, the parties filed their second written submissions to the Panel.
1.11.
On 16 October 2018, the Panel held its second substantive meeting with the parties. Prior to the substantive meeting, on 8 October 2018, the Panel sent the parties a list of questions for oral responses at the meeting. Following the meeting, on 19 October 2018, the Panel sent written questions to the parties. Responses to those questions were received by the Panel on 2 November 2018. The Panel gave the parties an opportunity to comment on each other's responses. These comments were received by the Panel on 16 November 2018.
1.12.
On 30 November 2018, the Panel issued the descriptive part of its Report to the parties. On 14 December 2018, the Parties provided their comments on the descriptive part of the report. On 15 February 2019, the Panel issued its Interim Report to the parties. On 6 March 2019, the parties individually requested a review of parts of the Interim Report. The Panel gave the parties an opportunity to comment on each other's request for review. These comments were received by the Panel on 20 March 2019. Following the interim review process, on 3 April 2019, the Panel issued its Final Report to the parties.

2 FACTUAL ASPECTS

2.1 MEASURE AT ISSUE

2.1.
In its panel request, the United States challenges China's administration of its tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat, rice, and corn as follows:

The United States considers that China administers TRQs for wheat, short- and medium- grain rice, long grain rice, and corn inconsistently with its WTO obligations. In particular, China administers each of its TRQs for wheat, short- and medium- grain rice, long grain rice, and corn inconsistently with its commitments specified in paragraph 1.2 of Part I of the Protocol on the Accession of the People's Republic of China (WT/L/432) ("Accession Protocol"), which incorporates the commitments in paragraph 116 of the Report of the Working Party on the Accession of China (WT/MIN(01)/3) ("Working Party Report"), as well as with Articles X:3(a), XI:1, and XIII:3(b) of the GATT 1994.

The legal instruments through which China has established its TRQs for wheat, short- and medium- grain rice, long grain rice, and corn include, but are not limited to, the following, operating separately or collectively:

· Customs Law of the People's Republic of China (adopted at the 19th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Sixth National People's Congress on 22 January 1987, amended 28 December 2013, in Order No. 8)

· Regulation of the People's Republic of China on the Administration of the Import and Export of Goods (Order of the State Council No. 332, adopted at the 46th executive meeting of the State Council on 31 October 2001, effective 1 January 2002)

· Regulation of the People's Republic of China on Import and Export Duties (State Council, Order No. 392, adopted at the 26th executive meeting of the State Council on 29 October 2003, amended 6 February 2016, in Order No. 666)

· Foreign Trade Law of the People's Republic of China (adopted at the 8th Session of the Standing Committee of the Tenth National People's Congress on 6 April 2004, effective 1 July 2004)

as well as any amendments, or successor, replacement, or implementing measures.

The legal instruments through which China administers each of its TRQs for wheat, short- and medium- grain rice, long grain rice, and corn include, but are not limited to, the following, operating separately or collectively:

· Provisional Measures on the Administration of Import Tariff-Rate Quotas for Agricultural Products (Ministry of Commerce and National Development and Reform Commission 2003 Order No. 4, issued 27 September 2003)

· Public Notice on Authorized Agencies for Agricultural Product Import Tariff-Rate Quotas (Ministry of Commerce and National Development and Reform Commission, Public Notice No. 54, issued 15 October 2003)

· Application Criteria and Allocation Principles for Import Tariff-Rate Quotas for Grains in 2017 (National Development and Reform Commission 2016 Public Notice No. 23, issued 10 October 2016)

· Announcement of Applicant Enterprise Data for Import Tariff-Rate Quotas for Grains in 2017 (National Development and Reform Commission, issued 1 December 2016)

· Public Notice on the Reallocation of Import Tariff-Rate Quotas for Agricultural Products in 2017 (National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Commerce 2017 Public Notice No. 11, issued 11 August 2017)

· Application Criteria and Allocation Principles for Import Tariff-Rate Quotas for Grains in 2016 (National Development and Reform Commission 2015 Public Notice No. 22, issued 29 September 2015)

· Announcement of Applicant Enterprise Data for Import Tariff-Rate Quotas for Grains in 2016 (National Development and Reform Commission, issued 4 December 2015)

· Public Notice on the Reallocation of Import Tariff-Rate Quotas for Agricultural Products in 2016 (National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Commerce 2016 Public Notice No. 19, issued 17 August 2016).

as well as any amendments, or successor, replacement, or implementing measures.6

2.2 CHINA'S SYSTEM OF TRQ ADMINISTRATION FOR WHEAT, RICE, AND CORN7

2.2.
China's TRQ administration operates on an annual basis. TRQ certificates for wheat, rice, and corn are valid and must be used from 1 January to 31 December every year.8
2.3.
Applicants must apply for TRQ allocations from 15 to 30 October of the year preceding that for which TRQ certificates will be issued by the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC).9 TRQ amounts are allocated and TRQ certificates are issued before 1 January of the year in which they have to be used.10 If applicants that receive TRQ allocations are unable to contract for importation, or have contracted but are unable to complete importation, under their allocated TRQ amounts, they must return such unused TRQ amounts by 15 September of that year.11 Returned TRQ amounts are made available for reallocation. Applicants must apply for TRQ reallocations from 1 to 15 September12 and the NDRC makes the reallocations before 30 September.13
2.4.
Below, the various stages and aspects of China's TRQ administration are described in further detail.

2.2.1 Initial allocation of TRQ amounts

2.5.
The NDRC, in conjunction with the Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM), is the authority responsible for allocating TRQ amounts for wheat, rice, and corn.14 The application period is from 15 to 30 October of the year preceding that for which TRQ certificates will be issued.15
2.6.
In accordance with the 2003 Provisional Measures, the NDRC issues annual allocation notices one month before the application period for TRQs in the International Business Daily, the China Economic Herald, and on MOFCOM's and the NDRC's websites.16 The annual allocation notices generally have similar content and follow the same structure.17 They set out, among other things, total TRQ amounts available for each type of grain and the portions thereof reserved for importation through state trading enterprises (STEs), application criteria, application period, allocation principles, and other requirements. Below, we describe the process of allocation of TRQ amounts by the NDRC.

2.2.1.1 Announcement of TRQ amounts available for allocation

2.7.
The annual allocation notices set out the total TRQ amounts that are available for allocation in any given year, as well as the portions thereof reserved for importation through STEs. For instance, the TRQ amounts available for allocation in 2017 were as follows:

The 2017 grain import tariff-rate quota quantities are: wheat – 9,636 million tons, with a state trading proportion of 90%; corn – 7.20 million tons, with a state trading proportion of 60%; [] rice – 5.32 million tons (of which: 2.66 million tons of long-grain rice and 2.66 million tons of medium- and short-grain rice), with a state trading proportion of 50%.18

2.2.1.2 Application criteria

2.8.
Applicants must meet the application criteria set out in the annual allocation notices to be eligible to receive TRQ allocations. The annual allocation notices divide these criteria into two: basic eligibility criteria and grain-specific eligibility criteria. Possession of the basic eligibility criteria is "a prerequisite" for eligibility.19 Applicants must also meet one of the grain-specific eligibility criteria corresponding to the type of grain in respect of which they applied for a TRQ allocation.20
2.9.
In the 2017 Allocation Notice, the basic eligibility criteria were set out as follows:

Having registered with the industry and commerce administrative departments prior to October 1, 2016; possessing a good financial condition, [good] taxpayer record, and a [good] integrity situation; as of 2015, no record of violating regulations with respect to customs, industry and commerce, taxation, credit and loans, inspection and quarantine, grain distribution, environmental protection, and other areas; not having been placed on a "Credit China" website blacklist [of entities] receiving punishment; having fulfilled social responsibilities associated with [their] operations; having no conduct in violation of the Provisional Measures for the Administration of Import Tariff-Rate Quotas for Agricultural Products.21

2.10.
China states that, in practice, the NDRC does not conduct an individual assessment of each of these basic eligibility criteria. Rather, the uniform social credit code that is provided by each applicant in its application form is used to generate a credit report through Credit China.22 Credit China is managed by the NDRC, and is connected to databases of dozens of government agencies.23 China adds that, while the credit report is generated using all of the information available through Credit China, the NDRC only uses Credit China's "blacklist" of entities with a record of violation to determine applicants' eligibility.24 Although entities are placed on Credit China's blacklist for having a record of violation in a range of areas, China states that only records of violations of "industry and commerce registration, tax payments, customs, and [] court judgements"25 within the previous two years26 will render applicants ineligible to receive TRQ allocations.
2.11.
China further states that the NDRC determines an applicant's eligibility to receive TRQ allocations not only by checking Credit China's blacklist, but also by checking (i) whether the applicant has attested to the accuracy of the information submitted in its application; and (ii) whether the applicant has prior violations of the 2003 Provisional Measures.27
2.12.
In the 2017 Allocation Notice, the grain-specific eligibility criteria were as follows:

(1) Wheat

1. State trading enterprise;

2. Enterprise with actual import performance (not including imports through agents) in 2016;

3. Flour production enterprise with wheat usage of more than 100,000 tons in 2015 or 2016;

4. Food production enterprise with flour usage of more than 50,000 tons in 2015 or 2016;

5. Enterprise without actual import performance in 2016 but which possesses import‑export operating rights and certification of its 2016 annual processing trade enterprise operating conditions and production capacity, issued by the department of commerce at its location, and which engages in processing trade using wheat or flour as the raw material.

(2) Corn

1. State trading enterprise;

2. Enterprise with actual import performance (not including imports through agents) in 2016;

3. Feed production enterprise with corn usage of more than 50,000 tons in 2015 or 2016;

4. Other production enterprise with corn usage of more than 150,000 tons in 2015 or 2016;

5. Enterprise without actual import performance in 2016 but which possesses import-export operating rights and certification of its 2016 annual processing trade enterprise operating conditions and production capacity, issued by the department of commerce at its location, and which engages in processing trade using corn as the raw material.

(3) [] rice (separate applications are required for long-grain rice and medium- and short-grain rice)

1. State trading enterprise;

2. Enterprise with actual import performance (not including imports through agents) in 2016;

3. Grain enterprise possessing grain wholesale and retail qualifications, with a [] rice sales value of more than CNY 100 million in 2015 or 2016;

4. Food production enterprise with [] rice usage of more than 50,000 tons in 2015 or 2016;

5. Enterprise without actual import performance in 2016 but which possesses import-export operating rights and certification of its 2016 annual processing trade enterprise operating conditions and production capacity, issued by the department of commerce at its location, and which engages in processing trade using [] rice as the raw material.28

2.2.1.3 Application process

2.13.
The application period for wheat, rice, and corn TRQs is from 15 to 30 October of the year preceding that for which TRQ certificates will be issued.29
2.14.
The annual allocation notices include, as annexes, an application form that requires applicants to provide information regarding, among other things, the nature of the ownership of the enterprise, registered capital, tax payments, asset-liability ratio, and import and sales performance as well as production and operation capacity for the first or second year preceding the one for which the application is made.30
2.15.
The application form also requires an applicant to commit to:

Guarantee its conformity with the grain import tariff-rate quota application criteria stipulated by the government, guaranteeing the authenticity, accuracy, and completeness of the application form; having obtained the grain import tariff-rate quota, guarantee that grain import business activities will be carried out according to relevant government laws, regulations, and provisions.31

2.16.
Group enterprises applying for wheat or corn TRQ allocations must "independently apply … in the name of each processing plant".32 Group enterprises applying for rice TRQ allocations "may choose to apply in the name of the group headquarters or a subsidiary enterprise, but the headquarters and the subsidiary enterprise must not apply at the same time".33
2.17.
Applications for TRQ allocations for wheat, rice, and corn are submitted to agencies duly authorized by the NDRC.34 The NDRC has authorized 37 local agencies to accept applications from enterprises within their territories.35 These local agencies are responsible for the following tasks:

(1) To accept applicants' applications and forward them to the Ministry of Commerce or NDRC;

(2) To accept inquiries and convey them to the Ministry of Commerce or NDRC;

(3) To inform applicants of any part of their applications that do not meet the requirements, and remind them of their revisions; [and]

(4) To issue an Agricultural Product Import Tariff-Rate Quota Certificate to approved applicants.36

2.18.
The NDRC's local agencies "in accordance with the criteria announced, accept the applications and related materials submitted by the applicants for wheat, corn, [] rice, and cotton, and transmit the applications to NDRC for approval prior to November 30, concurrently submitting a copy to the Ministry of Commerce".37

2.2.1.4 Allocation principles

2.19.
The TRQ amounts allocated to eligible applicants are determined by the NDRC. The 2003 Provisional Measures provide for two methods for determining the TRQ allocation amounts, namely, allocation "in accordance with the applicants' number of applications, past actual import performance, production capacity, and other relevant commercial standards", or allocation "based on a first-come first-served method".38 The initial allocation of TRQ amounts is made solely on the basis of the former method, also referred to as "allocation principles" in the annual allocation notices.39
2.20.
The 2017 Allocation Notice sets out the allocation principles as follows:

The aforementioned grain import tariff-rate quotas will be allocated in accordance with applicants' actual production and operating capacities (including historical production and processing, actual import performance, and operating situation, etc.) and other relevant commercial standards.40

2.21.
China states that, in practice, applicants' actual import performance under previously allocated TRQ amounts is "the factor given the most weight in NDRC's allocation analysis"41, and that "[n]ew applicants are only considered in the event that the entire non-STE portion of the TRQs is not fully allocated to applicants with historic import performance", in which case "information concerning production capacity is a key factor".42

2.2.1.5 Public comment process

2.22.
After receiving the applications from the NDRC's local agencies by 30 November, the NDRC publishes on its website a so-called announcement of applicant enterprise data, which includes a list of TRQ applicants together with relevant data submitted by each applicant.43 The period during which the list of applicants and applicants' data will be available online is specified on the NDRC's website.44
2.23.
Within that period, the public is invited to provide "feedback with relevant opinions" if they are "in disagreement with the data reported by the enterprises".45 The public comments are taken into account by the NDRC in determining applicants' eligibility to receive TRQ allocations and in determining the TRQ amounts allocated to individual applicants.46
2.24.
China states that the NDRC, in practice, verifies comments received from the public and provides applicants an opportunity to rebut any such comments.47 China also states that NDRC will only take into account verified public comments relating to "the violation records of an applicant in the areas of industry and commerce registration, tax payments, customs, compliance with court judgements, and compliance with the 2003 Provisional Measures" and "data concerning the actual import performance and the historical processing capacity of the applicant".48

2.2.2 Rules and requirements for allocated TRQ amounts

2.25.
Once the application process is complete, the NDRC, through its local agencies, informs applicants of the results of their applications and issues the TRQ certificates.49
2.26.
Applicants that receive TRQ allocations are called end-users50 and must comply with several rules and requirements when importing grains under TRQs allocated to them and when using grains imported under their TRQ allocations. The rules and requirements vary depending on the type of TRQ, grain, and enterprise involved and are described in further detail below.

2.2.2.1 STE and non-STE portions of TRQs

2.27.
Article 4 of the 2003 Provisional Measures divides TRQs into STE and non‑STE portions51, and requires STE portions to be indicated in TRQ certificates.52 STE portions of TRQs must be imported through STEs, and non-STE portions of TRQs must be imported through enterprises that have trading rights or, if the end-user has trading rights, by the end-user itself.53
2.28.
Article 38 of the 2003 Provisional Measures defines STEs as:

[E]nterprises conferred by the government with privileges in the exclusive import business of certain products. The list of state trading enterprises is verified, determined, and announced by the Ministry of Commerce.54

The National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation (COFCO) is the only STE for grains designated by the Ministry of Commerce.55

2.29.
According to Article 22 of the 2003 Provisional Measures, if an end-user that receives an STE portion of a TRQ is unable to sign a contract through an STE (i.e. COFCO) prior to 15 August, the end-user may, "upon seeking approval" from MOFCOM or the NDRC, entrust any enterprises to import or import by itself.56
2.30.
China states that while the NDRC is not legally prevented from allocating STE portions of TRQs to non-STE applicants, in practice, it allocates the entire STE portions of wheat, rice, and corn TRQs to COFCO.57 China further states that the entire STE portion of each TRQ is allocated to COFCO without applying the basic eligibility criteria and allocation principles described in sections 2.2.1.2 and 2.2.1.4 above58, and that the obligation to return unused TRQ amounts and the penalties for their non-use, described in section 2.2.2.3 below, also do not apply to COFCO.59

2.2.2.2 Usage requirements for wheat, rice, and corn imported under TRQ allocations

2.31.
TRQ amounts allocated to an enterprise must be "self-used", and imported goods must be "operated for processing" by the enterprise itself.60 The 2017 Allocation Notice specifies that:

Among these [goods], imported wheat and corn are required to be processed and used in [the enterprise's] own plant; imported [] rice is required to be organized for sale in the name of the enterprise itself.61

2.32.
As noted in paragraph 2.16 above, group enterprises that own multiple processing plants must independently apply for wheat and corn TRQ allocations in the name of each processing plant, and independently process wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations in each processing plant.62 Group enterprises applying for rice TRQ allocations may choose to apply in the name of the group headquarters or a subsidiary enterprise, but the headquarters and the subsidiary enterprises must not apply at the same time63, and the rice must be organized for sale in the name of the entity that files the application.64
2.33.
China states that, while the processing requirements for wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations apply in all circumstances, the NDRC does not "monitor whether recipients comply with the processing requirement on a daily basis" and that the NDRC, in the event it "were to become aware of a situation in which a recipient had transferred its [unprocessed] grains to another entity", would "evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, whether the recipient should be subject to a penalty in the form of a reduced allocation in the following year".65 If the recipient is found to have been "unable to process its full allocation for unexpected reasons", the NDRC would, according to China, not subject that recipient to a penalty.66 China further points out that the NDRC has "not yet" encountered a situation where a TRQ recipient has transferred unprocessed wheat or corn to other entities.67

2.2.2.3 Return of unused TRQ amounts and penalties for their non-use

2.34.
TRQ certificates for wheat, rice, and corn are valid and must be used from 1 January to 31 December of the year for which they are issued.68 An end-user must return unused TRQ amounts to the original certificate-issuing agency by 15 September of that year. In this regard, the 2003 Provisional Measures state that:

In the event that an end-user holding an agricultural product import tariff-rate quota is unable to sign import contracts for, or has already signed import contracts for but is unable to complete, the entire quota quantity already applied for and obtained for the current year, [the end-user] must return the quota quantity it was unable to complete to the original certificate-issuing agency prior to September 15.69

2.35.
Article 30 of the 2003 Provisional Measures imposes penalties in the form of deductions to the TRQ allocations in the following year for end-users that fail to return unused TRQ amounts by 15 September. More particularly, it states that:

In the event that an end-user, in violation of the provisions in Article 23 of these Measures, fails to complete imports for the entire agricultural import tariff-rate quota quantity allocated during the current year, and also fails to return to the original certificate-issuing agency by September 15 the quota quantity it failed to import during the current year, there will be a corresponding deduction to its tariff-rate quota quantity allocated in the following year, according to the proportion not completed.70

2.36.
Article 31 imposes penalties in the form of deductions to the TRQ allocations in the following year for end-users that are unable to complete importation under TRQs for two consecutive years even if they comply with the obligation to return unused amounts. More particularly, it states that:

In the event that an end-user fails to complete imports for the entire agricultural import tariff-rate quota quantity allocated for two consecutive years, but has returned to the original certificate-issuing agency by September 15 the quota quantity that it failed to utilize during the current year, there will be a corresponding deduction to its tariff-rate quota quantity allocated in the following year, according to its proportion not completed in the most recent year.71

2.2.3 Reallocation of returned TRQ amounts

2.37.
As described in section 2.2.2.3 above, an end-user must return unused TRQ amounts by 15 September of the year for which they are issued, in which case they are reallocated by the NDRC in conjunction with MOFCOM. The application period for TRQs available for reallocation is from 1 to 15 September of the same year.72 End-users that have fully utilized their TRQ allocations prior to the end of August, as well as new users that meet the application criteria in the allocation notice but did not apply during the original allocation process, are eligible to apply for reallocation.73
2.38.
One month before the application period for reallocation, the NDRC issues a reallocation notice in the International Business Daily, the China Economic Herald, and on MOFCOM's and the NDRC's websites, which sets out the application criteria for reallocation.74
2.39.
The 2003 Provisional Measures and the annual reallocation notices set out the method for reallocating returned TRQ amounts. The 2003 Provisional Measures state, in relevant part:

Tariff-rate quota reallocated quantities are allocated in accordance with the application criteria promulgated and according to the first-come-first-served method. The minimum quota quantity is determined using the commercially viable shipping quantities for each type of agricultural product.75

2.40.
The 2017 Reallocation Notice states that:

The National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce will carry out reallocation of quotas returned by users according to the order in which applications were submitted online. Before October 1, the tariff-rate quota reallocation results will be notified to the end-users.

When the number of applications that meet the criteria, in total, is smaller than the reallocated tariff-rate quota quantity, every applicant's application can be satisfied; when the number of applications that meet the criteria, in total, is larger than the reallocated tariff-rate quota quantity, reallocation will be carried out according to the Allocation Principles and the Allocation Rules.76

2.41.
China states that the NDRC, in practice, reallocates returned TRQ amounts based on the first-come, first-served method, and that the allocation principles used during the initial allocation process do not apply to the reallocation process.77
2.42.
Reallocation notices include, as annexes, an application form, which is similar to that used for the initial allocation process.78 Applications for reallocation of returned TRQ amounts may be submitted to the NDRC's local agencies.79
2.43.
According to the 2017 Reallocation Notice, from 1 September of each year, the NDRC's local agencies "carry out reporting of the applications that meet the criteria via an agricultural product import tariff-rate quota computerized management system". This Notice also states that, before 20 September, the local agencies "report these up in writing" to the NDRC.80
2.44.
The 2003 Provisional Measures direct the NDRC to reallocate returned TRQ amounts before 30 September.81 They also state that applicants that receive a reallocation may import by themselves or through other enterprises.82

3 PARTIES' REQUESTS FOR FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

3.1.
The United States requests that the Panel find that China's administration of its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs is inconsistent with China's obligations under Paragraph 116 of the Report of the Working Party on the Accession of China (WT/MIN(01)/3) (China's Working Party Report), as well as with Articles X:3(a), XI:1, and XIII:3(b) of the GATT 1994. The United States further requests, pursuant to Article 19.1 of the DSU, that the Panel recommend that China bring its measure into conformity with its WTO obligations.83
3.2.
China requests that the Panel reject the United States' claims.84

4 ARGUMENTS OF THE PARTIES

4.1.
The arguments of the parties are reflected in their executive summaries, provided to the Panel in accordance with paragraph 22 of the Working Procedures adopted by the Panel (see Annexes B‑1 and B-2).

5 ARGUMENTS OF THE THIRD PARTIES

5.1.
The arguments of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, the European Union, Japan, and Ukraine are reflected in their executive summaries, provided in accordance with paragraph 25 of the Working Procedures adopted by the Panel (see Annexes C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, C-5, C-6, and C-7). Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and Viet Nam did not submit written or oral arguments to the Panel.

6 INTERIM REVIEW

6.1.
On 15 February 2019, the Panel issued its Interim Report to the parties. On 6 March 2019, China and the United States each submitted written requests for the Panel to review aspects of the Interim Report. On 20 March 2019, both parties submitted comments on the other's requests for review. Neither party requested an interim review meeting.
6.2.
In accordance with Article 15.3 of the DSU, this section of the Report sets out the Panel's response to the parties' requests made at the interim review stage. The numbering of some of the footnotes in the Final Report has changed from the numbering in the Interim Report. The discussion below refers to the numbering in the Final Report and, where it differs, includes the corresponding numbering in the Interim Report.
6.3.
The parties' requests for substantive modifications are discussed below. In addition to the requests discussed below, corrections were made for typographical and other non-substantive errors in the Report, including those identified by the parties.

6.1 FACTUAL ASPECTS

6.4.
The United States requests that we modify our description of the application form annexed to the 2017 Allocation Notice in paragraph 2.14. First, the United States requests that we clarify that the form requires information regarding the "nature" rather than the "ownership" of the applicant. Second, the United States requests that we clarify that an applicant can submit information for the first or second year preceding the one for which the application is made.85 The United States submits the same two requests in relation to paragraphs 7.32and7.36.86 China does not oppose either request but asks that we disregard certain parts of the reasoning provided by the United States in support of its first request. More particularly, China asks that we disregard the United States' argument that information regarding the "nature" of the applicant "requires an indication of whether the enterprise is a state asset or private enterprise".87 In light of the text of the application form, and the views expressed by both parties, we have modified paragraphs 2.14, 7.32, and 7.36 by referring to the "nature of the ownership" rather than the "ownership" of the applicant and by clarifying that applicants can submit information for the first or second year preceding the one for which the application is made.

6.2 CLAIMS UNDER PARAGRAPH 116 OF CHINA'S WORKING PARTY REPORT

6.5.
The United States requests that the term "challenged measure" be replaced with "challenged measures" in paragraph 7.1 because the United States included several legal instruments in its panel request, and China's TRQ administration comprises numerous aspects.88 The United States submits the same or similar requests in relation to paragraphs 7.11,7.12,7.13,7.14,7.15, and7,162.89 China opposes the United States' request, arguing that the United States' panel request identified "a singular 'measure' consisting of China's administration of its TRQs" and distinguished this from "the 'legal instruments through which China has established its TRQs for wheat, short- and medium- grain rice, long grain rice, and corn'".90 We agree that the challenged measure is China's administration of its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs which, as we explain below, covers the legal instruments and acts of the relevant authorities that implement, or put into practical effect, China's TRQs.91 Our understanding of China's administration of its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs therefore covers all the legal instruments identified in the United States' panel request. We therefore do not consider it accurate or appropriate to refer to "challenged measures" in the plural, and thus reject the United States' request. We have, however, made textual modifications to certain paragraphs, including those identified by the United States, in order to clarify that the challenged measure is China's administration of its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs.
6.6.
The United States requests that we refer to "the customary rules of interpretation of public international law" reflected in Articles 31 through 33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties in paragraph 7.5 rather than to the provisions of the Convention themselves. In the United States' view, this would better reflect the fact that the United States is not a party to the Convention.92 China has not commented on this request. We consider the United States' proposed modification useful and have adjusted the text of paragraph 7.5 accordingly.
6.7.
The United States requests that we refer to the 1993 version, rather than the 2007 version, of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in setting out our understanding of the ordinary meaning of certain terms in Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report, and asks that we modify footnotes 135 through 140 to paragraph 7.9 (footnotes 96 through 101 to paragraph 7.9 of the Interim Report) accordingly.93 China has not commented on this request. We note that both versions of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary contain identical definitions for the terms at issue. We therefore do not consider it useful to make the requested modifications, and reject the United States' request.
6.8.
The United States requests that we modify our description of the structure of China's arguments, in paragraph 7.12, in order to reflect the fact that China did not address all of the United States' claims in its first written submission.94 China opposes the United States' request, arguing that it addressed all of the United States' claims at the Panel's first meeting with the parties and in its subsequent submissions.95 We have slightly modified the text of paragraph 7.12 in order to accommodate both parties' arguments.
6.9.
The United States requests that we remove the characterization, in the first sentence ofparagraph 7.13, of its claims under Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report as "intertwined", and rather indicate that "the United States in certain instances offers the same evidence in support of separate claims".96 China has not commented on this request. In our view, the characterization of the United States' claims as intertwined is accurate, regardless of whether this intertwined nature stems from the United States' reliance on "the same evidence in support of separate claims". We do not consider it necessary or useful to modify the text of paragraph 7.13, and thus reject the United States' request.
6.10.
The United States requests that we modify the fifth sentence ofparagraph 7.13, which describes the Panel's approach in analysing the United States' claims under Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report, in order to indicate that the obligations under Paragraph 116 are legally independent. More particularly, the United States requests that we not describe our holistic assessment of the compatibility of China's TRQ administration as "synthesizing our intermediate analyses" regarding the individual aspects of the measure, but rather as being "in addition to our analyses" regarding the individual aspects of the measure.97 The United States submits the same request in relation to the fifth sentence of paragraph 7,162.98 China has not commented on this request. We agree that our analyses of the individual aspects of China's TRQ administration should not be viewed as intermediate. We have therefore removed this term from paragraphs 7.13 and 7,162, but have not found it necessary or useful to make further modifications.
6.11.
China requests that we modify the description in paragraph 7.4499 of the NDRC's practice in determining an applicant's eligibility to receive TRQ allocations, in order to better reflect China's explanation that the NDRC, in practice, generates an applicant's credit report through Credit China by using the applicant's uniform social credit code.100 The United States does not oppose China's request but asks that we clarify that this description is based on China's explanation of the NDRC's practice.101 We consider China's suggested modification, and the United States' suggested clarification, accurate and useful, and have adjusted the text of paragraph 7.44 accordingly.
6.12.
The United States requests that we revise our finding in paragraph 7.61 that it is sufficient for China to list the factors that the NDRC will take into account in allocating TRQ amounts and that Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report does not require China to specify how the NDRC will evaluate these factors and what weight it will accord to them. In the United States' view, this finding is inconsistent with the Panel's understanding of the meaning and nature of the obligations under Paragraph 116, as well as with the Panel's findings in paragraphs 7.69 and 7.84 on certain other aspects of China's TRQ administration.102 China opposes the United States' request, arguing that the Panel "properly … concluded that the United States' proposed standard was overly stringent" and that there are no inconsistencies in the Panel's findings.103 We note that interim review provides parties an opportunity to request the Panel "to review precise aspects of the interim report"104 and is not an appropriate stage for the parties to raise new arguments or to re-argue their case on the basis of arguments already put before the Panel.105 Further, we do not consider that our finding in paragraph 7.61 is inconsistent with any other finding in our Report. We therefore reject the United States' request that we revise our finding in paragraph 7.61. We have nonetheless modified paragraphs 7.69, 7.82, and 7.84, in order to clarify that there are no inconsistencies in our findings on different aspects of China's TRQ administration.
6.13.
China requests that we modify the description in paragraph 7.77 of the public comment process, by clarifying that the NDRC only publishes "certain" information submitted by applicants in their TRQ applications.106 The United States does not oppose China's request but asks us to add that this description is based on China's explanation.107 We find China's suggestion useful, but consider it more accurate to use the term "relevant" as this is the term used in China's legal instrument, the 2017 Announcement of Applicant Enterprise Data.108 We have adjusted the text of paragraph 7.77 accordingly. Since the description of the public comment process is based on a legal instrument, the 2017 Announcement of Applicant Enterprise Data, rather than China's explanation, we do not consider it accurate to include the United States' proposed addition.
6.14.
The United States requests that we "avoid confusion" by adding a direct reference to Article 30 of the 2003 Provisional Measures in footnote 281 to paragraph 7,105 (footnote 241 to paragraph 7,105 of the Interim Report), which sets out the legal basis for the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts.109 China has not commented on this request. We note that footnote 281, first, provides a direct reference to Article 23 of the 2003 Provisional Measures, which is the legal basis for the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts. Footnote 281, then, explains that Article 30 of the 2003 Provisional Measures imposes penalties for failure to comply with the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts, and quotes the text of this provision. Thus, in our view, footnote 281 provides all the necessary information and does not cause confusion. We therefore reject the United States' request.
6.15.
The United States requests that we add the phrase "with trading rights" to our description in paragraph 7,114 of the procedure for non-STE recipients to import under STE portions of TRQs, in order to accurately reflect Articles 4 and 22 of the 2003 Provisional Measures, and to specify that non-STE recipients of STE portions of TRQs may only seek approval to import through enterprises "with trading rights".110 China opposes the United States' request on the basis that trading rights are no longer relevant to China's TRQ administration.111 We note that the term "trading rights" appears several times in the 2003 Provisional Measures. As clarified in our factual description of China's TRQ administration above, we, however, do not refer to this term in our Report because China explains that all enterprises in China have trading rights, which are granted automatically upon registration.112 The United States has not contested China's explanation or otherwise suggested that trading rights are relevant. In light of this, we do not find it useful to refer to trading rights in describing the procedure for non-STE recipients to import under STE portions of TRQs, or elsewhere, and therefore reject the United States' request.
6.16.
The United States requests that we revise our finding in paragraph 7,132 that China's failure to give public notice of the outcomes of the NDRC's allocation and reallocation processes would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ by preventing grain importers and exporters from entering into commercial arrangements for the importation of wheat, rice, and corn, because nothing prevents TRQ recipients from publishing their own outcomes or contacting grains exporters. In the United States' view, this finding "does not include, however, circumstances where a TRQ holder (the STE, COFCO, for example) may not wish to enter into commercial arrangements for the importation of grains".113 China opposes the United States' request, arguing that it is based on "a purely speculative hypothetical" and "only serves to confirm that [the United States] lacks any valid basis for arguing that the information currently published by China is insufficient".114 We reiterate that interim review is not an appropriate stage for the parties to raise new arguments or re-argue their case on the basis of arguments already put before the Panel.115 Furthermore, consideration of "circumstances where a TRQ holder (the STE, COFCO, for example) may not wish to enter into commercial arrangements for the importation of grains" would, in our view, not alter the finding that China's failure to give public notice of the outcomes of the NDRC's allocation and reallocation processes would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ. More particularly, if TRQ recipients do not wish to enter into commercial arrangements with grain exporters, they will presumably not do so regardless of whether China provides public notice of the allocation and reallocation outcomes. We therefore reject the United States' request that we revise our finding in paragraph 7,132.
6.17.
China requests that we modify paragraph 7,145 and footnote 337 thereto (footnote 297 of the Interim Report) by deleting references to Articles 30 and 31 of the 2003 Provisional Measures since these provisions impose penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations, rather than penalties for failure to comply with the usage requirements for wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations.116 China requests that we instead refer to China's explanation "that in cases where NDRC imposes penalties on recipients for not having met the usage requirements for imported wheat and corn under the TRQs, such penalties would take the form of deductions in TRQ allocations in the coming year".117 The United States opposes the deletion of references to Articles 30 and 31 of the 2003 Provisional Measures, arguing that a TRQ recipient who "knows it can not or may not be able to process the full amount of its wheat or corn allocation in its own plant … may not apply for or import as much grain, and in the latter scenario would be subject to the TRQ utilization penalty referenced in Articles 30 and 31".118 However, the United States does not object to China's request that an additional reference be provided to China's explanation of the penalties for failure to comply with the usage requirements for wheat and corn.119 We note that while the penalties in Articles 30 and 31 of the 2003 Provisional Measures are not directly applicable to failure to comply with the usage requirements for wheat and corn, the operation of the usage requirements, in conjunction with the penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations, has an effect on the filling of the TRQs. It is this effect that forms the basis for the United States' claim and our finding under Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report. We therefore reject China's request for the deletion of the references to Articles 30 and 31 of the 2003 Provisional Measures in paragraph 7,145 and footnote 337 thereto. However, we have made certain modifications to paragraph 7,145 to clarify the relevance of the penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations in Articles 30 and 31 of the 2003 Provisional Measures, for the usage requirements for wheat and corn. Further, we consider that China's explanation that penalties similar to those in Articles 30 and 31 of the 2003 Provisional Measures apply to failure to comply with the usage requirements for wheat and corn supports our finding in paragraph 7,145, and we therefore agree with both parties that an additional reference to this explanation in footnote 337 is appropriate and useful.

6.3 CLAIM UNDER ARTICLE XIII:3(B) OF THE GATT 1994

6.18.
The United States requests that the term "contracting party" be replaced by the term "Member" in paragraph 7,187.120 China has not commented on this request. We note that the term "contracting party" appears as part of a quote from Article XIII:3(a) of the GATT 1994. Paragraph 2(a) of the Explanatory Note to the GATT 1994, provides that "references to 'contracting party' in the provisions of GATT 1994 shall be deemed to read 'Member'". We therefore do not consider it necessary to modify the quote in paragraph 7,187, and reject the United States' request.
6.19.
The United States requests a "clarification, for accuracy and for consistency" in paragraph 7,190. More particularly, the United States requests that we explain that a TRQ gives applicants permission or opportunity to import goods at the in-quota rate "up to the total TRQ amounts allocated" rather than "up to the total TRQ amounts available for allocation".121 China opposes the United States' request, arguing that the proposed "clarification" would be inconsistent with the Panel's finding that Article XIII:3(b) of the GATT 1994 requires public notice of the total TRQ amounts available for allocation, not the total TRQ amounts actually allocated.122 We agree with China that the United States' requested modification is not a "clarification, for accuracy and for consistency" but rather a substantive modification that would not be consistent with our interpretation of Article XIII:3(b) and our finding that this provision requires public notice of the total TRQ amounts of available for allocation, not the total TRQ amounts actually allocated. We therefore reject the United States' request.

6.4 CLAIM UNDER ARTICLE X:3(A) OF THE GATT 1994

6.20.
The United States requests that the reference to a "well-established principle in WTO case law" in paragraph 7,212 be deleted, since it could be "misunderstood as indicating that prior panel and appellate reports have precedential value" and since the DSU provides more direct support for the relevant finding.123 The United States suggests further modifications to paragraph 7,212and footnote 404 thereto (footnote 364 of the Interim Report) to clarify that the finding is based on the provisions of the DSU. China has not commented on this request. While we have not found it necessary to introduce all of the United States' suggested modifications, we have deleted the reference to a "well-established principle in WTO case law" and have made certain other textual modifications to paragraph 7,212 and footnote 404 thereto in order to address the concern identified by the United States. Although not specifically requested by the United States, we have also made the same modifications in paragraph 7,238 and footnote 446 thereto (footnote 406 of the Interim Report) concerning the claim under Article XI:1 of the GATT 1994.

7 FINDINGS

7.1 CLAIMS UNDER PARAGRAPH 116 OF CHINA'S WORKING PARTY REPORT

7.1.1 Introduction

7.1.
The United States raises several claims under Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report, namely that China violates the obligations to administer its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, using clearly specified administrative procedures and requirements that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.124 Each claim takes issue with specific aspects of China's administration of its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs. Such aspects include the basic eligibility criteria to receive TRQs (basic eligibility criteria); the principles for allocating the TRQ amounts (allocation principles) and the procedures for reallocating the amounts of returned TRQs (reallocation procedures); the use of a public comment process; the administration of STE and non-STE portions of TRQs; the extent of the public notice provided in connection with allocation, return and reallocation of TRQs; and the usage requirements imposed on wheat, rice, and corn imported under TRQ allocations (usage requirements).125
7.2.
While acknowledging that certain aspects of its TRQ administration could be better reflected in its legal instruments126, China generally rejects all of the United States' claims under Paragraph 116.127

7.1.2 Legal provision

7.3.
Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report states in relevant part:

The representative of China stated that upon accession, China would ensure that TRQs were administered on a transparent, predictable, uniform, fair and non-discriminatory basis using clearly specified timeframes, administrative procedures and requirements that would provide effective import opportunities; that would reflect consumer preferences and end-user demand; and that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.128

7.4.
Previous WTO panels have not yet addressed Paragraph 116. We therefore find it useful to set out our understanding of the meaning and nature of the legal obligations laid down in this provision, before proceeding to our assessment of the claims.
7.5.
As a threshold matter, we note that Paragraph 1.2 of China's Accession Protocol stipulates that "[t]his Protocol, which shall include the commitments referred to in paragraph 342 of [China's] Working Party Report, shall be an integral part of the WTO Agreement."129 Paragraph 342 of China's Working Party Report, in turn, refers to the commitments contained in a number of its paragraphs, including Paragraph 116.130 In light of this, we consider that China's commitments under Paragraph 116 are enforceable under the DSU, and we will interpret these obligations in accordance with the customary rules of interpretation of public international law reflected in the relevant provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.131
7.6.
Paragraph 116 contains multiple obligations, which may be grouped into three categories. The first category concerns the basis of China's TRQ administration, and requires this basis to be transparent, predictable, uniform, fair, and non-discriminatory. The second category concerns the timeframes, administrative procedures and requirements China uses in its TRQ administration, and requires these timeframes, administrative procedures and requirements to be clearly specified. The third category concerns the effects of the aforementioned time-frames, administrative procedures and requirements, and requires that they provide effective import opportunities, reflect consumer preferences and end-user demand, and not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.
7.7.
All obligations set forth in Paragraph 116 apply only to China's administration of its TRQs, as opposed to the TRQs themselves. In this regard, we consider that China's administration of its TRQs covers the legal instruments and acts of the relevant authorities that implement the TRQs or put them into practical effect.132
7.8.
Paragraph 116 lists the multiple obligations contained therein using the conjunction "and", which, as both parties agree133, suggests that these are legally independent obligations. Therefore, a breach of any of these obligations would lead to a violation of Paragraph 116.134 In our assessment, we focus only on the six obligations the United States has invoked in challenging China's TRQ administration under Paragraph 116, namely the obligations to (a) administer TRQs on a transparent basis; (b) administer TRQs on a predictable basis; (c) administer TRQs on a fair basis; (d) administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures; (e) administer TRQs using clearly specified requirements; and (f) administer TRQs using timeframes, administrative procedures and requirements that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.
7.9.
Since the obligations set forth in Paragraph 116 are legally independent, we consider it important to set out our understanding of the meaning and nature of each obligation the United States has invoked in the case before us. The first three obligations concern the "basis" for China's TRQ administration, in other words, the underlying set of rules or principles according to which China administers its TRQs.135 In our view, these obligations require China to administer its TRQs through an underlying set of rules or principles that are easily understood or discerned by applicants and other interested parties (administer TRQs on a transparent basis)136; that allows applicants and other interested parties to easily anticipate how decisions regarding TRQ administration are made (administer TRQs on a predictable basis)137; and that is impartial and equitable, requiring the relevant authorities to administer TRQs in accordance with the applicable rules and standards (administer TRQs on a fair basis).138 With respect to the fourth and fifth obligations, we consider that they require China to use administrative procedures and requirements that are set out in plain or obvious detail (use clearly specified administrative procedures and requirements).139 The sixth obligation, concerning the effects of China's TRQ administration, requires China to employ timeframes, administrative procedures and requirements that would not restrain or prevent the filling of each TRQ (administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ).140 Although this obligation concerns the effects of China's TRQ administration on the filling of each TRQ, we do not believe that the United States is required to quantify such effects in order to prevail under this claim. Rather, the United States can substantiate this claim with reference to the design, architecture and structure of China's TRQ administration, in its relevant context.141

7.1.3 Horizontal issues

7.18.
For these reasons, we find that Paragraph 116 applies to all aspects challenged by the United States, including the usage requirements and penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations.
7.19.
Having addressed these horizontal issues, we now assess the United States' claims concerning the individual aspects of China's TRQ administration, followed by our holistic assessment of the compatibility of that administration with the obligations invoked by the United States under Paragraph 116.

7.1.4 Assessment of the individual aspects of China's TRQ administration challenged under Paragraph 116

7.1.4.1 Basic eligibility criteria

7.1.4.1.1 Introduction

7.21.
China does not contest the United States' claims about the basic eligibility criteria, but maintains that "while China acknowledges that the Basic Criteria need to be updated, this does not mean that China's system of TRQ administration is inconsistent with Paragraph 116".158 While taking note of China's acknowledgement of the need to update the basic eligibility criteria, we consider that our obligation under Article 11 of the DSU to conduct an objective assessment of the matter before us requires us nevertheless to examine the consistency of those criteria with Paragraph 116.159
7.22.
Below, we describe the basic eligibility criteria at issue and summarize the parties' main arguments. We then assess whether the basic eligibility criteria are inconsistent with the four obligations the United States has invoked, taking into account our understanding of the meaning and nature of each of the relevant obligations laid out in paragraph 7.9 above.

7.1.4.1.2 Basic eligibility criteria at issue

7.23.
The basic criteria for eligibility to receive wheat, rice, and corn TRQs are published in the NDRC's annual allocation notices.160 The 2017 Allocation Notice contains eight such criteria. The United States takes issue with the following four:

- Possessing "a good financial condition";

- Possessing "[a good] integrity situation";

- Possessing "no record of violating regulations with respect to customs, industry and commerce, taxation, credit and loans, inspection and quarantine, grain distribution, environmental protection, and other areas"; and

- "having fulfilled social responsibilities associated with [their] operations".161

7.24.
The second paragraph of Article II of the 2017 Allocation Notice states that the possession of the basic eligibility criteria is a "prerequisite" for obtaining a TRQ allocation.162

7.1.4.1.3 Main arguments of the parties

7.25.
The United States argues that the terms used in the four challenged eligibility criteria are inherently vague and that the 2017 Allocation Notice fails to define them in a way that is easily understandable to potential applicants. In the United States' view, this runs counter to the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent163 and predictable basis164, and to use clearly specified requirements.165 The United States also argues that the vagueness in these criteria may cause different applicants to interpret them differently and submit different information to the NDRC to demonstrate their eligibility to receive TRQ allocations, and the latter may therefore use different information in assessing the eligibility of different applicants. In the United States' view, this runs counter to the obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis.166
7.27.
In response to this statement by China, the United States submits that China has not substantiated its assertions regarding the practice of the NDRC168 and that, in any event, the discrepancy between China's legal instruments and the stated practice of the NDRC further supports its claims of inconsistency of the basic eligibility criteria with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified requirements.169

7.1.4.1.4 Analysis by the Panel

7.28.
Below, we first assess the United States' claims in respect of each of the four basic eligibility criteria at issue. Thereafter, we examine the implications of China's statement that, in practice, the NDRC bases its eligibility assessment on whether an applicant appears in Credit China's blacklist.
7.29.
The United States claims that the four basic eligibility criteria at issue violate the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified requirements.
7.30.
Starting with the criteria that applicants must possess a good integrity situation and have fulfilled social responsibilities associated with their operations, we agree with the United States that the terms "integrity situation" and "social responsibilities" are inherently vague. Both of these terms can be interpreted as having many different meanings. Looking at the context in which they appear in China's legal instruments, we note that these vague terms are not defined, nor is there any guidance as to the kinds of information that the NDRC will consider in assessing compliance with these requirements. In our view, lack of such guidance leaves potential applicants in the dark. Without further clarification as to their meaning in the context of China's TRQ administration, the terms "integrity situation" and "social responsibilities" may be interpreted in different ways.
7.31.
For these reasons, we find these two criteria to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis because they are not easily understood or discerned by applicants and other interested parties. Similarly, we find them to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs on a predictable basis because they do not allow applicants and other interested parties to easily anticipate how the NDRC determines applicants' integrity situation and their fulfilment of social responsibilities, and thus their eligibility to receive TRQ allocations. We also find these criteria to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified requirements because the requirements that these two criteria entail are not set out in plain or obvious detail.
7.32.
The United States argues that the vagueness in these two criteria also leads to a violation of the obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis. As explained above, fairness requires that China's TRQ administration be impartial and equitable, and that the relevant authorities administer TRQs in accordance with the applicable rules and standards.170 We have found the two criteria at issue to be vague, and concluded, on that basis, that China does not administer its TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, using clearly specified administrative requirements. However, we are not convinced that the vagueness in these criteria, in and of itself, is sufficient to demonstrate that China does not administer its TRQs on a fair basis. The United States' claim concerning the fairness of the basic eligibility criteria is premised on the argument that the vagueness in these criteria may cause applicants to submit different information which would, in turn, cause the NDRC to assess different applicants' eligibility on the basis of different types of information.171 In our view, however, the United States has not substantiated this argument. In particular, we note that the application form attached to the 2017 Allocation Notice requires applicants to submit a list of specific information and to "[g]uarantee its conformity with the grain import tariff-rate quota application criteria".172 More particularly, the form requires information on the nature of the ownership of the enterprise, registered capital, tax payments, asset-liability ratio, and import and sales performance as well as production and operation capacity for the first or second year preceding the one for which the application is made.173 The form does not provide applicants with the possibility to submit additional information, including information they may believe is relevant to determine compliance with the basic eligibility criteria. The United States argues that "the application is not necessarily just the form … but may also include 'related materials submitted by the applicant'".174 In making this argument, the United States refers to Article 12 of the 2003 Provisional Measures, which states:

Agencies authorized by NDRC, in accordance with the criteria announced, accept the applications and related materials submitted by the applicants for wheat, corn, [] rice, and cotton, and transmit the applications to NDRC for approval prior to November 30, concurrently submitting a copy to the Ministry of Commerce.175

7.33.
While this provision indicates that applicants have the possibility to submit materials along with their applications, the text also suggests that these will be materials related to the applications. Therefore, it does not alter the fact that the application form requires the same types of information from all applicants. We are not convinced by the argument that applicants would, on their own motion, submit unsolicited information simply because they may believe such information to be relevant to determine compliance with the basic eligibility criteria. Therefore, regardless of the vagueness in the criteria, the United States has not demonstrated that there is a risk of different applicants submitting different types of information to the NDRC and the latter making its eligibility assessment based on those different types of information.
7.34.
The United States also submits that "[p]otential applicants may choose not to apply at all because they are unable to understand the Basic Criteria or because they perceive the criteria in a way that they conclude in error they are not eligible".176 We consider it unlikely that potential applicants would forego the possibility of applying for TRQ allocations – which are, as pointed out by the United States177, a commercial advantage – merely due to the vagueness in certain eligibility criteria.
7.35.
We therefore do not consider that the United States has made a prima facie case that the vagueness in the two criteria at issue leads to a violation of the obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis.
7.36.
Turning to the criterion that applicants must possess a good financial condition, we consider that this is less vague than the two criteria examined above. We note that some guidance could arguably be found in the application form attached to the annual allocation notices, which requires applicants to submit data on the nature of the ownership of the enterprise, registered capital, tax payments, asset-liability ratio, and import and sales performance as well as production and operation capacity for the first or second year preceding the one for which the application is made.178 China's legal instruments, however, do not clarify whether this information is relevant to the criterion of having a good financial condition, nor do they clarify what other information may be relevant. Without further clarity in China's legal instruments, it does not seem possible for potential applicants and other interested parties to know what is meant by possessing a good financial condition.
7.37.
For these reasons, we find this criterion to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis because it is not easily understood or discerned by applicants and other interested parties. Similarly, we find this criterion to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs on a predictable basis because it does not allow applicants and other interested parties to easily anticipate how the NDRC determines the state of applicants' financial condition, and thus their eligibility to receive TRQ allocations. We also find this criterion to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified requirements because the requirements that this criterion entails are not set out in plain or obvious detail.
7.38.
The United States argues that the vagueness in the criterion of possessing a good financial condition also leads to a violation of the obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis. In this regard, the United States submits the same arguments as those concerning the criteria of possessing a good integrity situation and having fulfilled social responsibilities associated with their operations.179 For the reasons explained in paragraphs 7.32 through 7.35 above, we disagree with these arguments, and consider that the United States has not made a prima facie case that China has violated this obligation.
7.39.
Turning now to the criterion that applicants must have no record of violation, we recall that this criterion is set out in Article II of the 2017 Allocation Notice as "no record of violating regulations with respect to customs, industry and commerce, taxation, credit and loans, inspection and quarantine, grain distribution, environmental protection, and other areas". The United States takes issue with two elements of this criterion, namely, the lack of explanation of what constitutes a "violation" and the lack of identification of the areas of regulation with which applicants must comply, in particular due to the residual category "other areas".180
7.40.
We disagree with the United States' argument that this criterion lacks clarity because of the term "violation". We consider this term to be self-explanatory. In our view, potential applicants and other interested parties would reasonably understand that "violation" of a rule in one of the listed areas of regulation entails breaking, or not complying with, that rule. Proceeding to the areas of regulation with which applicants must comply, the United States argues that the 2017 Allocation Notice "fails to further define any of the named areas or to identify which regulations the applicant must demonstrate compliance with in order to have fulfilled these criteria"181, but does not explain why it considers that the named areas lack clarity. We are not convinced that the reference to customs, industry and commerce, taxation, credit and loans, inspection and quarantine, grain distribution, and environmental protection lacks clarity. Nor are we convinced that it is necessary to identify each and every specific regulation with which applicants must comply. However, we agree with the United States that the reference to "other areas" is vague, and also note that China's legal instruments contain no guidance regarding the scope of such "other areas". The inclusion of this open-ended category could lead to applicants being disqualified for having a record of violation in any area of regulation, even those unrelated to China's wheat, rice, and corn TRQs.
7.41.
Due to the vagueness in the reference to "other areas", we find the criterion of having no record of violation to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis because this particular element is not easily understood or discerned by applicants and other interested parties. Similarly, we find this criterion to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs on a predictable basis because it does not allow applicants and other interested parties to easily anticipate how the NDRC determines applicants' record of violation in "other areas", and thus their eligibility to receive TRQ allocations. Finally, we also find this criterion to be inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified requirements because, insofar as the vagueness of the term "other areas" is concerned, the requirements that this criterion entails are not set out in plain or obvious detail.
7.42.
The United States argues that the vagueness in this criterion also leads to a violation of the obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis. In this regard, the United States submits the same arguments as those concerning the criteria of possessing a good integrity situation and having fulfilled social responsibilities associated with their operations.182 For the reasons explained in paragraphs 7.32 through 7.35 above, we disagree with these arguments, and consider that the United States has not made a prima facie case that China has violated this obligation.
7.43.
Having concluded our assessment of the United States' claims regarding the four basic eligibility criteria at issue, we now turn to China's statement regarding the NDRC's practice in the assessment of applicants' eligibility to receive TRQ allocations. The United States claims that this stated practice violates the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified requirements.
7.44.
At the outset, we recall that the 2017 Allocation Notice contains eight basic eligibility criteria, one of which is "not having been placed on a 'Credit China' website blacklist [of entities] receiving punishment".183 China explains that the NDRC, in practice, does not conduct an individual assessment of each of these criteria but rather generates an applicant's credit report through Credit China by using the uniform social credit code that is provided by each applicant in its application. China explains that the credit report contains a multitude of information such as "general registration information of the enterprise; the administrative licenses acquired by the enterprise; the administrative punishments received by the enterprise; and whether the enterprise is on the Good Credit List, Watch List, or Black List". China also states that only the blacklist is considered in determining an applicant's eligibility.184 The blacklist is a list of enterprises with a record of non‑compliance in a range of areas, but China explains that only records of violations with industry and commerce registration, tax payments, customs, or court judgments within the previous two years will render an applicant ineligible to receive TRQ allocations.185 China also explains that any instance of non-compliance disqualifies an applicant from being eligible to receive TRQs.186
7.45.
In other words, according to China, the NDRC, in practice, bases its eligibility assessment on whether an applicant appears in Credit China's blacklist and does not examine whether the applicant meets the other basic eligibility criteria set out in the 2017 Allocation Notice. In response to a question, China points out that this practice is "confirmed by NDRC officials".187 However, China has not submitted evidence showing that applicants and other interested parties are made aware of this practice. We thus agree with the United States that this practice is not easily understood or discerned by applicants and other interested parties. Accordingly, we find it shows that China fails to administer its TRQs on a transparent basis. Similarly, we do not consider that applicants and other interested parties can easily anticipate that the NDRC, in practice, determines applicants' eligibility to receive TRQ allocations based on whether they appear in Credit China's black list and not based on an assessment of the remaining basic eligibility criteria. Accordingly, we find that the NDRC's stated practice shows that China fails to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis. We also do not consider that this practice is set out, in China's legal instruments or elsewhere, in plain or obvious detail. Accordingly, this practice shows that China fails to administer its TRQs using clearly specified requirements.
7.46.
We also consider that this practice renders China's TRQ administration inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis. As noted in paragraph 7.9 above, this obligation requires that China administers its TRQs through a system that is impartial and equitable, and that the relevant authorities administer TRQs in accordance with the applicable rules and standards. Above, we have found unconvincing the United States' argument that vagueness in the four eligibility criteria at issue renders China's TRQ administration inconsistent with the fairness obligation set forth in Paragraph 116. However, the disparity between what is written in China's legal instruments and what the NDRC does in practice with regard to the basic eligibility criteria does not represent administration in accordance with the applicable rules and standards. On this basis, we find that China fails to administer its TRQs on a fair basis.

7.1.4.1.5 Conclusion

7.47.
For the reasons set out above, and taking into account China's acknowledgement that the basic eligibility criteria need to be updated, we find that the four basic eligibility criteria challenged by the United States are inconsistent with the obligations, set forth in Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report, to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified requirements.

7.1.4.2 Allocation principles and reallocation procedures

7.1.4.2.1 Introduction

7.48.
The United States claims that the allocation principles are inconsistent with four obligations set forth in Paragraph 116, namely, the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. The United States also claims that the reallocation procedures are inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures. China rejects the entirety of the United States' claims.
7.49.
Below, we describe the allocation principles and reallocation procedures at issue and summarize the parties' main arguments. We then proceed to assess whether the allocation principles and reallocation procedures are inconsistent with the obligations the United States has invoked, taking into account our understanding of the meaning and nature of each of the relevant obligations laid out in paragraph 7.9 above.

7.1.4.2.2 Allocation principles and reallocation procedures at issue

7.50.
Once the NDRC has determined which applicants are eligible to receive TRQ allocations, it allocates the TRQ amounts among the eligible applicants in accordance with the allocation principles, set out in the annual allocation notices published by the NDRC. The 2017 Allocation Notice prescribes that the TRQ amounts will be allocated:

[I]n accordance with applicants' actual production and operating capacities (including historical production and processing, actual import performance, and operating situation, etc.) and other relevant commercial standards.188

7.51.
For the reallocation of unused TRQs amounts that are returned by recipients before 15 September, the NDRC follows the reallocation procedures. These are set out in different parts of China's legal instruments. Article 26 of the 2003 Provisional Measures provides that "[t]ariff-rate quota reallocated quantities are allocated in accordance with the application criteria promulgated and according to the first-come-first-served method".189 The 2017 Reallocation Notice states, in relevant parts:

The National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce will carry out reallocation of quotas returned by users according to the order in which applications were submitted online. …

When the number of applications that meet the criteria, in total, is smaller than the reallocated tariff-rate quota quantity, every applicant's application can be satisfied; when the number of applications that meet the criteria, in total, is larger than the reallocated tariff-rate quota quantity, reallocation will be carried out according to the Allocation Principles and the Allocation Rules.190

7.1.4.2.3 Main arguments of the parties

7.52.
With respect to the allocation principles, the United States points to the lack of explanation of two elements, namely, the NDRC's evaluation of applicants' "actual production and operating capacities (including historical production and processing, actual import performance, and operations)"191, and the meaning of the term "other relevant commercial standards" as well as the factors covered by this term.192 With respect to the first element, the United States maintains that China's legal instruments do not clearly explain how the NDRC evaluates applicants' actual production and operating capacities and weighs the listed factors.193 With respect to the second element, the United States submits that the term "other relevant commercial standards" suggests that the NDRC, in making allocations, takes into account factors other than those that are clearly cited in China's legal instruments, without any clarification of the factors and types of information the NDRC may take into account.194 For these reasons, the United States contends that the allocation principles are inconsistent with the obligations, set forth in Paragraph 116, to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures.195
7.53.
China states that, in practice, "'actual import performance' is the factor given the most weight in NDRC's allocation analysis"196 and that "[n]ew applicants are only considered in the event that the entire non-STE portion of the TRQs is not fully allocated to applicants with historic import performance", in which case "information concerning production capacity is a key factor".197 In China's view, these principles are sufficiently clear since Paragraph 116 does not require China to eliminate any element of discretion from its TRQ allocation process.198 China further argues that allocation in accordance with "other relevant commercial standards" is consistent with Paragraph 116 since China's Schedule CLII explicitly refers to allocation of TRQ amounts on this basis.199 Finally, China argues that Paragraph 116 does not require it "to make applicants aware of how NDRC evaluates individual applications, including the weight assigned to particular factors".200
7.54.
In response, the United States submits that China has not substantiated its assertions regarding the NDRC's practice201, and that, in any event, the discrepancy between China's legal instruments and the stated practice of the NDRC further supports its claim of inconsistency of the allocation principles with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis.202
7.55.
With respect to the reallocation procedures, the United States points out that the annual reallocation notices state that the NDRC will reallocate returned TRQ amounts "according to the order in which applications were submitted online" and that "[w]hen the total sum of qualified application amounts is greater than the tariff quota reallocation amount, the reallocation will be carried out according to the Allocation Principles".203 The United States argues that, since reallocation is based on the allocation principles and these are not defined or explained in China's legal instruments, the procedures for reallocation are also not clearly specified.204
7.56.
China argues that this claim has no basis because the allocation principles are not used by the NDRC during the reallocation process and that reallocation is done on a first-come, first-served basis.205
7.57.
In response, the United States maintains that the 2017 Reallocation Notice references both the first-come, first-served method and reallocation according to the allocation principles, and that therefore China's administrative procedures for reallocation are not clearly specified in its legal instruments.206

7.1.4.2.4 Analysis by the Panel

7.58.
The United States claims that the allocation principles are inconsistent with four obligations set forth in Paragraph 116, namely the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. The United States also claims that the reallocation procedures are inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures. We first assess the claims concerning the allocation principles, followed by the claim concerning the reallocation procedures.

7.1.4.2.4.1 Allocation principles

7.59.
In this section, we first assess the United States' claims in respect of the allocation principles set out in China's legal instruments. Thereafter, we examine the implications of China's statement regarding how the NDRC conducts the allocation process in practice.
7.60.
The United States claims that the allocation principles in China's legal instruments violate the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. In support of these claims, the United States focuses on two elements in the allocation principles.
7.61.
First, the United States points to the reference to "actual production and operating capacities (including historical production and processing, actual import performance, and operations)". While the United States does not take issue with the factors themselves, it submits that Paragraph 116 requires China to not only list the relevant factors for allocation but also to specify how each of these factors is evaluated.207 We find the United States' interpretation of Paragraph 116 too stringent insofar as it would prevent China from having in place a system of TRQ allocation where the authorities take into account all factors listed in their legal instruments and decide how much weight to accord to them in light of the relevant circumstances.
7.62.
The United States has not explained why the listing in China's legal instruments of the factors that the NDRC takes into account in the allocation process does not allow applicants and other interested parties to easily understand or discern the basis for that process, and why the legal instruments should also specify how each factor is to be evaluated and what weight each factor will be accorded. Thus, we do not consider that the United States has demonstrated that this element of the allocation principles violates the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis. Similarly, the United States has not explained why the listing of the relevant factors in China's legal instruments does not allow applicants and other interested parties to easily anticipate how the NDRC will allocate TRQ amounts. Thus, we do not consider that the United States has demonstrated that this element of the allocation principles violates the obligation to administer TRQs on a predictable basis. Finally, the United States has not established that the allocation principles are not set out in plain or obvious detail in China's legal instruments. Thus, we do not consider that the United States has demonstrated that this element of the allocation principles violates the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.
7.63.
Second, the United States argues that China's legal instruments do not explain what "other relevant commercial standards" entail, and that therefore applicants cannot discern how fulfilment of such standards may be demonstrated.208 We agree with the United States' view that this is a vague and open-ended term that could cover a multitude of factors, which are unknown to applicants and other interested parties. In response to the United States' argument, China points out that this term also appears in China's Schedule CLII209, which reads, in relevant parts:

In the first year, allocations to end users by the SDPC of the tariff-quotas … shall be based on a first-come, first-served system or the requests of the applicants and their historical import performance, production capacity, or other relevant commercial criteria subject to specific conditions to be published one month in advance of the opening of the application period so as to ensure an equitable distribution and complete tariff-quota utilization.210

7.65.
China also submits that the inclusion of the residual category "other relevant commercial standards" provides the NDRC with the discretion it needs to adapt its allocation decisions to particular factual circumstances, and that this is common practice among WTO Members, including the United States.213 We note that the present claim has been brought under China's Working Party Report, which contains specific obligations undertaken by China with regard to its TRQ administration. We agree with China that we should not read Paragraph 116 so as to preclude the relevant authorities from having any discretion in administering TRQs. Indeed, it is for this reason that we have found that China is not required to set out, in its legal instruments, the precise manner in which its authorities evaluate relevant factors in allocating the TRQ amounts. This does not, however, provide China's relevant authorities with unfettered discretion. In allocating TRQ amounts, the NDRC is bound by the obligations set forth in Paragraph 116. The inclusion of the vague notion "other commercial standards" runs counter to those obligations because it may potentially entail a range of factors that cannot easily be understood or discerned by applicants and other interested parties. In our view, this violates China's obligation to administer its TRQs on a transparent basis. For the same reasons, we are of the view that applicants and other interested parties cannot easily anticipate what information the NDRC will take into account in allocating TRQ amounts, and that therefore China also fails to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis. Similarly, we find that the vagueness of this notion shows that China fails to administer its TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures because the procedures concerning the allocation of TRQs are not set out in plain or obvious detail in China's legal instruments.
7.66.
The United States argues that the vagueness in the allocation principles also leads to a violation of the obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis. As explained above, we consider this obligation to require that China administer its TRQs in an impartial and equitable manner, and that the Chinese authorities act in accordance with the applicable rules and standards.214 While we have found that the reference to "other commercial standards" in the allocation principles is vague and therefore in violation of China's obligations to administer its TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures, we do not believe that this vagueness, in and of itself, is sufficient to demonstrate that China does not administer its TRQs on a fair basis. The United States' claim concerning the fairness of the allocation principles is premised on the argument that the vagueness in these principles may cause applicants to submit different information which, in turn, would cause the NDRC to allocate TRQ amounts to different applicants based on different types of information.215 As we discussed in addressing the fairness of the basic eligibility criteria216, the application form attached to the 2017 Allocation Notice requires all applicants to submit a list of specific information, and does not provide applicants with the possibility of submitting additional information, including information they may believe is relevant to TRQ allocation. Once again, we do not consider plausible the United States' argument that applicants may nonetheless submit "different information in support of the listed principles", or that applicants may allow the vagueness in the term "other commercial standards" to influence their decisions on whether to apply for TRQs and what TRQ amounts to apply for.217 We therefore consider that the United States has not made a prima facie case that the vagueness in allocation principles laid down in China's legal instruments leads to a violation of China's obligation to administer its TRQs on a fair basis.
7.67.
Having concluded our assessment of the United States' claims regarding the allocation principles in China's legal instruments, we now turn to China's statement regarding how the NDRC conducts its allocation process in practice. The United States claims that this stated practice violates the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis.
7.68.
China states that, in practice, the NDRC gives the most weight to actual import performance, and that new applicants are only considered in the event that the entire non-STE portions of the TRQs are not fully allocated to applicants with historic import performance, in which case information concerning production capacity is a key factor.218 In response to a question, China points out that the existence of this practice is "confirmed by NDRC officials".219 However, China has not submitted evidence showing that applicants and other interested parties are made aware of this practice. The United States submits that the NDRC's stated practice regarding the allocation principles further supports its claims that China has violated its obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis.220
7.69.
Above, we have found that it is permissible for China to have in place a system of TRQ allocation where all relevant factors are listed in the legal instruments and the authorities take into account all listed factors and decide how much weight to accord to them in light of the relevant circumstances.221 China's explanation of the NDRC's practice, however, suggests that the NDRC, in making allocation decisions, does not take into account all the factors listed in the annual allocation notices, and that actual import performance supersedes all the other factors. China explains that, under this practice, an applicant without actual import performance does not receive a TRQ allocation at all regardless of its actual production and operating capacities, except where the TRQ amounts are not fully allocated to applicants with actual import performance.222 Applicants and other interested parties are, however, not put on notice of this practice. We thus agree with the United States that this practice is not easily understood or discerned by applicants and other interested parties. Accordingly, we find it shows that China fails to administer its TRQs on a transparent basis. Similarly, we do not consider that applicants and other interested parties can easily anticipate that, in practice, actual import performance supersedes all other factors. Nor can they easily anticipate that applicants without actual import performance would not receive TRQ allocations unless the entire non-STE portions are not fully allocated to applicants with actual import performance. Accordingly, we find that the NDRC's stated practice shows that China fails to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis.
7.70.
We also consider that this practice renders China's TRQ administration inconsistent with its obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis. As noted in paragraph 7.9 above, this obligation requires that China administers its TRQs through a system that is impartial and equitable, and that the relevant authorities administer TRQs in accordance with the applicable rules and standards. Above, we have found unconvincing the United States' argument that the vagueness in the allocation principles renders China's TRQ administration inconsistent with the fairness obligation in Paragraph 116. However, the disparity between what is written in China's legal instruments and what China states that the NDRC does in practice in allocating TRQ amounts does not represent administration in accordance with the applicable rules and standards. On this basis, we find that China fails to administer its TRQs on a fair basis.

7.1.4.2.4.2 Reallocation procedures

7.71.
The United States claims that the reallocation procedures in China's legal instruments violate the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures. In this regard, the United States points to the 2017 Reallocation Notice, arguing that this instrument suggests that "reallocation will be carried out according to the Allocation Principles and the Allocation Rules".223 Following China's explanation that the NDRC, as set out in the 2003 Provisional Measures, reallocates returned TRQ amounts based on the first-come, first-served method, rather than the allocation principles224, the United States argues that the reference to two different methods in the 2017 Reallocation Notice and the NDRC's alleged practice of using only the first-come, first-served method demonstrate China's violation of the obligation in Paragraph 116 to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.225
7.72.
While the 2003 Provisional Measures, reproduced in paragraph 7.51 above, clearly set out the first-come, first-served method as the sole reallocation method, the 2017 Reallocation Notice, also reproduced in paragraph 7.51 above, is less clear. It first states that the NDRC "will carry out reallocation of quotas returned by users according to the order in which applications were submitted online", which, as suggested by both parties226, could be viewed as a reference to the first-come, first-served method. It, however, goes on to state that "when the number of applications that meet the criteria, in total, is larger than the reallocated tariff-rate quota quantity, reallocation will be carried out according to the Allocation Principles and the Allocation Rules", which the United States understands to be a reference to the allocation principles, set out in Article IV of the 2017 Allocation Notice.227
7.73.
The United States presents claims against China's TRQ administration as spelled out in the various legal instruments adopted by China as well as the practice of the relevant Chinese authorities. Therefore, we base our assessment of these claims on the entirety of the various elements making up China's TRQ administration. With respect to the reallocation procedures, while the use of the first-come, first-served method is clearly specified in the 2003 Provisional Measures228, the clarity of this aspect of China's TRQ administration is, in our view, diminished by the vagueness in the 2017 Reallocation Notice. The latter contains only an indirect reference to the first-come, first‑served method but an explicit reference to the allocation principles.229 An assessment of the ensemble of China's legal instruments therefore shows that the reallocation procedures are not set out in plain or obvious detail, in violation of the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.

7.1.4.2.5 Conclusion

7.74.
For the reasons set out above, we find that the allocation principles are inconsistent with the obligations, set forth in Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report, to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. We also find that the reallocation procedures are inconsistent with the obligation, set forth in Paragraph 116, to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.

7.1.4.3 Public comment process

7.1.4.3.1 Introduction

7.75.
The United States claims that the public comment process is inconsistent with four obligations set forth in Paragraph 116, namely the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. China rejects the entirety of the United States' claims.
7.76.
Below, we describe the public comment process at issue and summarize the parties' main arguments. We then assess whether the public comment process is inconsistent with the four obligations the United States has invoked, taking into account our understanding of the meaning and nature of each of the relevant obligations as laid out in paragraph 7.9 above.

7.1.4.3.2 Public comment process at issue

7.77.
The public comment process is mentioned only in the announcement of applicant enterprise data, which the NDRC publishes on its website after the receipt of TRQ applications in a given year. It includes a list of TRQ applicants as well as the relevant information they have submitted to the NDRC in their applications.230 The announcement indicates that the public is invited to provide "feedback with relevant opinions" if they disagree with the data applicants have submitted.231 Neither the announcements of applicant enterprise data nor any other of the relevant legal instruments provide further information on the public comment process.

7.1.4.3.3 Main arguments of the parties

7.78.
The United States argues that the public comment process runs counter to the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent232 and predictable233 basis and to use clearly specified administrative procedures234 because China's legal instruments do not clarify how the NDRC evaluates the information received from the public, whether the NDRC informs applicants of any comments, and whether applicants have an opportunity to rebut such comments. The United States also argues that China fails to administer TRQs on a fair basis because, given the lack of clarity on how the NDRC treats information received from the public and whether applicants have an opportunity to rebut it, that information "could introduce bias or inequity due to the potential motivations of a submitter or the inability of NDRC or the applicant to verify or refute the information provided".235
7.79.
China rejects the United States' claims and argues that Paragraph 116 does not require that all the procedures that are part of the public comment process be spelled out in the legal instruments.236 According to China, the public comment process serves as "an additional means for NDRC to verify the data that it receives from applicants".237 China asserts that, in practice, applicants are informed of the public's comments and provided with an opportunity to rebut such comments, and that comments that are not relevant to the applicants' eligibility will not be taken into account.238 China also submits that "[t]he existence of the public comment process is clear on the face of the measures" and that the United States has not presented evidence showing that there has been actual confusion on the part of applicants about the public comment process or that an applicant sought clarification concerning this process, which was not provided.239

7.1.4.3.4 Analysis by the Panel

7.80.
The United States claims that the public comment process violates the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. The United States contends that the public comment process does not allow applicants to know whether the NDRC has received comments from the public about their applications, and if so, whether they will have an opportunity to rebut any such comments.
7.81.
China's legal instruments do not provide any clarity on these aspects of the public comment process. China asserts that, in practice, applicants are informed of the public's comments received, and are provided with an opportunity to rebut such comments.240 However, China has not submitted evidence of the existence of this alleged practice, except stating that "[t]he existence of this practice has been confirmed by NDRC officials".241 We do not consider this statement, alone, to be sufficient to substantiate China's assertion about the existence of a mechanism whereby applicants are informed of the public's comments on their applications and have an opportunity to rebut such comments. In any case, the thrust of the United States' claim is the lack of clarity in the public comment process, and the fact that applicants and other interested parties do not know whether China's TRQ administration requires the NDRC to verify the public's comments and to provide applicants the opportunity to rebut such comments. We now turn to the United States' specific claims about the public comment process.
7.82.
Starting with the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis, we note that the annual announcements of applicant enterprise data explicitly set out the possibility for the public to provide comments, but contain no language on any potential subsequent verification process and whether the NDRC allows applicants the opportunity to rebut such comments. The absence of this important information leaves applicants and other interested parties unable to easily understand or discern the rules and principles through which the NDRC evaluates comments from the public, including whether applicants will have a chance to rebut such comments. As explained by China, the public's comments are relevant to the NDRC's assessment of applicants' eligibility to receive TRQ allocations and to the NDRC's allocation of TRQ amounts.242 We consider that the lack of clarity regarding the public comment process is particularly problematic in light of the vagueness or open-endedness of certain basic eligibility criteria and allocation principles that we have found to be inconsistent with China's various obligations set forth in Paragraph 116. We therefore consider that the public comment process is inconsistent with China's obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis. Similarly, since applicants and other interested parties cannot easily anticipate whether the NDRC will verify comments from the public and whether it will allow applicants an opportunity to rebut such comments, China violates the obligation to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis. We also find that, since the procedure for public comments is not set out in plain or obvious detail in China's legal instruments, this violates China's obligation to administer its TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.
7.83.
China argues that the obligations set forth in Paragraph 116 do not require that China's legal instruments specify all the procedures for evaluating public comments243, that the United States has not provided evidence of actual confusion among applicants244, and that applicants can submit an inquiry for further information concerning the public comment process.245 We do not agree with these arguments. In our view, Paragraph 116 imposes positive obligations for China to administer its TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. We do not consider that China complies with these obligations simply because applicants and other interested parties may be able to discover the content and functioning of the public comment process by seeking out such information on their own initiative. We also do not believe that the United States is necessarily required to substantiate its claims under these obligations by providing evidence of actual confusion among applicants and other interested parties. Rather, the United States may, and in our view, has, substantiated its claims through the design, architecture and structure of China's TRQ administration.
7.84.
With respect to the obligation to administer TRQs on a fair basis, we recall that this obligation requires China's administration of TRQs to be impartial and equitable, and that the Chinese authorities act in accordance with the applicable rules and standards.246 As we have already found, China's legal instruments do not specify whether the public's comments will be verified and whether applicants will be given an opportunity to rebut such comments. Further, as China acknowledges, any member of the public, including competing applicants and other entities or people with an interest in impairing an applicant's opportunity to receive a TRQ allocation, may submit comments.247 A system that allows entities with conflicting interests to comment on the information provided by applicants but does not clarify whether those applicants or other interested parties have an opportunity to learn about such comments and to rebut them, cannot, in our view, be considered impartial and equitable. Thus, we find that the public comment process violates China's obligation to administer its TRQs on a fair basis.

7.1.4.3.5 Conclusion

7.85.
For the reasons set out above, we find that the public comment process is inconsistent with the obligations, set forth in Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report, to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures.

7.1.4.4 STE and non-STE portions of TRQs

7.1.4.4.1 Introduction

7.86.
The United States claims that China's administration of STE and non-STE portions of its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs violates five obligations under Paragraph 116, namely the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, to use clearly specified administrative procedures, and to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ. China rejects the entirety of the United States' claims.
7.87.
Below, we describe the relevant provisions of China's legal instruments concerning STE and non-STE portions of TRQs and summarize the parties' main arguments. We then assess whether China's administration of STE and non-STE portions of TRQs is inconsistent with the five obligations the United States invokes, taking into account our understanding of the meaning and nature of each of the relevant obligations laid out in paragraph 7.9 above.

7.1.4.4.2 Provisions at issue concerning STE and non-STE portions of TRQs

7.88.
Article 4 of the 2003 Provisional Measures divides China's wheat, rice, and corn TRQs into STE and non-STE portions and the annual allocation notices set out the portions of TRQs reserved for importation through STEs in any given year. In the 2017 Allocation Notice, the STE portions of TRQs are set out as follows:

The 2017 grain import tariff-rate quota quantities are: wheat – 9,636 million tons, with a state trading proportion of 90%; corn – 7.20 million tons, with a state trading proportion of 60%; [] rice – 5.32 million tons (of which: 2.66 million tons of long-grain rice and 2.66 million tons of medium- and short-grain rice), with a state trading proportion of 50%.248

Neither the 2003 Provisional Measures nor the 2017 Allocation Notice contains further provisions concerning the allocation of STE and non-STE portions of TRQs.

7.89.
Article 4 of the 2003 Provisions Measures sets out the following procedures for importation of goods under STE and non-STE portions of TRQs:

State trading quotas must be imported through state trading enterprises; non-state trading quotas are imported through enterprises that have trading rights, and end-users that have trading rights may also import by themselves.249

It is undisputed that COFCO is the only designated STE for grains.250

7.90.
Article 22 of the 2003 Provisional Measures sets out the following procedure for recipients of STE portions of TRQs that have not signed a contract for importation with an STE prior to 15 August:

With respect to state trading agricultural product import tariff-rate quota quantities allocated to end-users, in the event that a contract has not been signed prior to August 15 of the current year, upon seeking approval from the Ministry of Commerce or NDRC according to the administrative jurisdiction set forth in Article 7 of these Measures, the end-user is permitted to entrust any enterprises that have trading rights to import; end-users that have trading rights may also import by themselves.251

7.1.4.4.3 Main arguments of the parties

7.91.
First, the United States points to China's use of a "single application process" for allocating STE and non-STE portions of TRQs. Since applicants are neither able to request one or the other portion, nor provided any information concerning how the NDRC allocates these portions, the United States argues that China violates its obligations to administer its TRQs on a transparent252 and predictable basis253 and to use clearly specified administrative procedures.254 The United States also argues that the single application process inhibits the filling of each TRQ, since "[e]ach type of importation process has its own costs, time constraints, and administrative burdens" and "the uncertainty inherent in China's process" could cause applicants not to apply for TRQs or to apply for smaller amounts.255
7.92.
Second, the United States points to the procedure for non-STE recipients of STE portions of TRQs to import under such TRQs, in particular, that non-STE recipients must initially attempt to contract with COFCO and, if unsuccessful by 15 August, seek approval from the NDRC to import by themselves or through another enterprise. In the United States' view, China violates the obligations to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis and not to inhibit the filling of each TRQ, since COFCO is not required to contract with non-STE recipients of STE portions of TRQs and the NDRC's approval to import without COFCO is not automatic. Non-STE recipients therefore cannot predict if they will be able to import under STE portions allocated to them256, and may ultimately be unable to do so.257 Non-STE recipients that are unable to import under STE portions of their TRQ allocations will not be eligible to apply for reallocation and may face penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations in the form of deductions to their allocations in the following year, adding to the lack of predictability258 and to the inhibiting effect of China's TRQ administration.259 The United States further argues that the lack of clarification in China's legal instruments regarding the procedure for seeking the NDRC's approval to import also violates China's obligation to administer its TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.260
7.93.
China submits that all of the United States' arguments are inapposite because the NDRC, in practice, allocates the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO and does not require COFCO to return unused TRQ amounts.261 Since non-STE applicants, in practice, receive only non-STE portions of TRQs, China considers it unnecessary to provide these applicants with information regarding the allocation of STE portions of TRQs.262 Similarly, China considers that the United States' concerns about non-STE recipients' ability to use STE portions of TRQs are "hypothetical" since non-STE applicants, in practice, do not receive STE portions of TRQs.263
7.94.
In response, the United States maintains that China has not substantiated its assertions regarding the NDRC's practice, and that, in any event, such practice further demonstrates China's violation of its obligations under Paragraph 116.264 More particularly, the alleged practice further demonstrates that China does not administer its TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, using clearly specified administrative procedures, since it "departs" from what is stated in China's legal instruments.265 It also demonstrates that China does not administer its TRQs on a fair basis, since the NDRC does not apply the basic eligibility criteria and allocation principles set out in China's legal instruments in allocating the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO, and does not subject COFCO to the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts.266 Lastly, the alleged practice also demonstrates that China's TRQ administration inhibits the filling of each TRQ, since the NDRC "excludes" COFCO's unused TRQ amounts from reallocation and thereby "prevents imports that would otherwise be completed by non-STE applicants".267 In response, China argues that nothing in China's Schedule CLII or its legal instruments precludes the NDRC from allocating the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO and not requiring COFCO to return unused TRQ amounts.268

7.1.4.4.4 Analysis by the Panel

7.95.
Below, we assess, first, the United States' claims regarding the allocation of STE and non-STE portions of the TRQs including the implications of China's statement concerning the NDRC's practice in this regard. We then address the United States' claims regarding the procedure for non-STE recipients of STE portions of TRQs to import under those portions.

7.1.4.4.4.1 Allocation of STE and non-STE portions of the TRQs

7.96.
We begin by assessing the parts of China's legal instruments that pertain to the allocation of STE and non-STE portions of TRQs and the United States' claims concerning the so-called "single application process" for these two portions. We then assess the implications of China's statement that the NDRC, in practice, allocates the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO and does not require COFCO to return unused TRQ amounts.
7.97.
The United States claims that the lack of clarity in China's legal instruments and the use of a so-called "single application process" violate the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, to use clearly specified administrative procedures, and to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.
7.98.
At the outset, we note that China's legal instruments explicitly distinguish between STE and non-STE portions of TRQs. More particularly, Article 4 of the 2003 Provisional Measures states that TRQs are "divided into state trading quotas and non-state trading quotas"269 and the annual allocation notices indicate specific STE portions of available TRQ amounts.270 Despite this, neither China's legal instruments nor any other document explains to applicants and other interested parties how the NDRC allocates these two portions of TRQs, nor are applicants provided the possibility to apply specifically for one portion or the other. We therefore consider that applicants and other interested parties are unable to easily understand or discern the set of rules or principles through which the NDRC allocates STE and non-STE portions of TRQs, in violation of China's obligation to administer its TRQs on a transparent basis. Similarly, we consider that applicants and other interested parties cannot easily anticipate how the NDRC allocates STE and non-STE portions of TRQs, in violation of China's obligation to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis. We also consider that the NDRC's process for allocating STE and non-STE portions of TRQs is not set out in plain or obvious detail, in violation of China's obligation to administer its TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.
7.99.
The United States also claims that the uncertainty in the NDRC's allocation of STE and non‑STE portions of TRQs inhibits the filling of each TRQ. As argued by the United States271, the procedures for importing under STE and non-STE portions of TRQs differ. More particularly, recipients of non-STE portions may import by themselves or through another enterprise, whereas recipients of STE portions must import through the designated STE COFCO or, if unsuccessful by 15 August, seek the NDRC's approval to import by themselves or through another enterprise.272 Above we found that the uncertainty in the NDRC's allocation of STE and non-STE portions of TRQs renders China's TRQ administration inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. However, we do not believe that the mere existence of such uncertainty is sufficient to demonstrate that China administers its TRQs in a manner that would inhibit the filling of each TRQ. As noted by the United States273, the receipt of a TRQ is a benefit or commercial advantage since it allows for importation of products at a reduced in-quota rate. The United States has not established that the uncertainty in the NDRC's allocation of STE and non-STE portions of TRQs, in and of itself, would cause applicants to forego such an advantage by not applying for TRQs or applying for smaller amounts.
7.100.
Having assessed the United States' claims concerning China's legal instruments, we now turn to consider the implications of China's statement that the NDRC, in practice, allocates the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO and does not require COFCO to return unused TRQ amounts. The United States claims that this stated practice violates the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, to use clearly specified administrative procedures, and to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.
7.101.
With respect to the NDRC's stated practice of allocating the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO, we agree with the United States that a number of provisions in China's legal instruments suggest that STE portions of TRQs could be allocated to STE as well as non-STE applicants.274 First, Article 4 of the 2003 Provisional Measures states that "[s]tate trading quotas must be imported through state trading enterprises", and that "non-state trading quotas are imported through enterprises that have trading rights, and end-users that have trading rights may also import by themselves".275 The statement that STE portions must be imported through STEs would, in our view, be redundant if non-STE applicants could not receive allocations of STE portions of TRQs. Instead, this provision suggests that non-STE applicants can receive non-STE or STE portions of TRQs, or a mix of the two. The different portions would simply have to be used in accordance with the relevant procedures in Article 4.
7.102.
Second, Article 14 of the 2003 Provisional Measures requires STE portions to be indicated in the TRQ certificate and, accordingly, the annexed TRQ certificate requires an indication of "7. Arranged Quantity" and "8. of which State Trading".276 Again, it would, in our view, be redundant to require that STE portions of allocated TRQ amounts be indicated in individual recipients' TRQ certificates if non-STE applicants could only receive non-STE portions. Instead, this suggests that any applicant, including a non-STE applicant, can receive both non-STE and STE portions of TRQs.
7.103.
Third, Article 22 of the 2003 Provisional Measures sets out a procedure for recipients that have been allocated STE portions of TRQs and have not signed a contract by August 15, to seek approval to entrust any enterprise to import or to import by themselves.277 Again, in our view, this procedure would be redundant if non-STE applicants could not receive STE portions of TRQs. Instead, this provision suggests that non-STE applicants can receive STE portions and therefore use the procedure in Article 22 in cases where they fail to contract with COFCO for importation under allocated STE portions of TRQs by 15 August.
7.104.
Based on our reading of these provisions, we consider that China's legal instruments set out STE and non-STE portions of TRQs as being available for allocation to both STE and non-STE applicants, in accordance with the eligibility criteria and allocation principles laid down in the annual allocation notices. Indeed, China itself states that nothing in its legal instruments prevents the NDRC from allocating STE portions of TRQs to non-STE applicants.278 We see nothing, in China's legal instruments or elsewhere, that would alert applicants and other interested parties to the NDRC's stated practice of allocating the entire STE portions of TRQs only to COFCO. While China states that "[a]pplicants become aware of this practice through their participation in the TRQ administration", this assertion does not, in our view, suffice.279
7.105.
With respect to the NDRC's stated practice of not requiring COFCO to return unused TRQ amounts, we agree with the United States that the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts is set out in China's legal instruments as generally applicable to all recipients of TRQ allocations.280 Article 23 of the 2003 Provisional Measures, which contains this requirement, states in relevant part:

In the event that an end-user holding an agricultural product import tariff-rate quota is unable to sign import contracts for, or has already signed import contracts for but is unable to complete, the entire quota quantity already applied for and obtained for the current year, [the end-user] must return the quota quantity it was unable to complete to the original certificate-issuing agency prior to September 15.281

7.106.
The requirement to return unused TRQ amounts thus applies to "end-users", which are defined in Article 39 of the 2003 Provisional Measures as follows:

"End-users" as mentioned in these Measures refer to manufacturing enterprises, traders, wholesalers, retailers, etc. that directly apply for and obtain agricultural product import tariff-rate quotas.282

7.107.
Thus, as China also confirms283, end-users are enterprises that apply for and receive TRQ allocations. This definition suggests that any enterprise that applies for and receives TRQ allocations is considered an end-user and is therefore subject to the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts. We find unconvincing China's argument that the 2003 Provisional Measures "provide for two mutually exclusive categories of applicants, STEs and 'end users'".284 STEs are defined in Article 38 of the 2003 Provisional Measures as:

"State trading enterprises" as mentioned in these Measures refer to enterprises conferred by the government with privileges in the exclusive import business of certain products. The list of state trading enterprises is verified, determined, and announced by the Ministry of Commerce.285

7.108.
We see nothing in this definition, or elsewhere in China's legal instruments, to suggest that an STE such as COFCO should not be considered an end-user and therefore should not be subject to the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts, insofar as that STE applies for and receives a TRQ allocation, including an allocation of STE portions of a TRQ.
7.109.
As explained above, China's legal instruments suggest that both STE and non-STE applicants can receive STE portions of TRQs, and that the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts applies to both STE and non-STE recipients of TRQ allocations. As also explained above, there is no indication in China's legal instruments or elsewhere that COFCO receives the entire STE portions of TRQs and is not required to return unused TRQ amounts. China's statement therefore demonstrates that the NDRC's practice differs from what is set out in China's legal instruments. In our view, the disparity between what is set out in China's legal instruments and the NRDC's stated practice demonstrates that applicants and other interested parties cannot easily understand or discern the set of rules or principles through which the NDRC, in practice, administers STE and non-STE portions of TRQs. It therefore further supports our finding of inconsistency with the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis. Similarly, this disparity demonstrates that applicants and other interested parties cannot easily anticipate how the NDRC, in practice, allocates STE and non-STE portions of TRQs, further supporting our finding of inconsistency with the obligation to administer TRQs on a predictable basis. This disparity also shows that the NDRC, in practice, allocates STE and non-STE portions of TRQs in a manner that is not set out in plain or obvious detail, further supporting our finding of inconsistency with the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.
7.110.
In addition, the disparity between what is set out in China's legal instruments and the NRDC's stated practice demonstrates that the NDRC does not use the otherwise applicable rules when administering STE and non-STE portions of TRQs. More particularly, China acknowledges that the NDRC does not apply the basic eligibility criteria and allocation principles in allocating the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO286, and does not subject COFCO to the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts.287 We have explained above that fairness requires that China's TRQ administration be impartial and equitable, and that the Chinese authorities act in accordance with the applicable rules and standards.288 In our view, China's statement that the NDRC, in practice, does not follow the otherwise applicable rules regarding the basic eligibility criteria, allocation principles, and the requirement to return unused TRQ amounts therefore demonstrates that China violates the obligation to administer its TRQs on a fair basis.
7.111.
We note China's argument that nothing in China's Schedule CLII or its legal instruments precludes the NDRC from allocating the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO and not requiring COFCO to return unused TRQ amounts.289 We wish to emphasize that our findings above concern solely the consistency of China's TRQ administration with the obligations in Paragraph 116. Whether the NDRC's stated practice is consistent with China's Schedule CLII is not a matter before us. Nor is it our task to consider China's compliance with its own domestic legislation.290
7.112.
With respect to the implications of the NDRC's stated practice on the filling of China's wheat, rice, and corn TRQs, we agree with the United States that this practice would result in the exclusion of certain TRQ amounts that would otherwise be available to non-STE applicants.291 More particularly, China's statement that the NDRC, in practice, allocates the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO and does not require COFCO to return unused TRQ amounts demonstrates that the NDRC precludes non-STE applicants from applying for and receiving COFCO's unused TRQ amounts during the reallocation process. In our view, China's statement concerning the NDRC's practice therefore demonstrates that China's TRQ administration restrains the filling of its TRQs, in violation of the obligation to administer its TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.

7.1.4.4.4.2 Procedure for non-STE recipients to import under STE portions of TRQs

7.113.
The United States claims that the procedure for non-STE recipients to import under STE portions of TRQs violates the obligations to administer TRQs on a predictable basis, to use clearly specified administrative procedures, and to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ. China argues that the United States' claims are "hypothetical" in light of the NDRC's stated practice of allocating the entire STE portions of TRQs to COFCO. However, we consider it appropriate to address these claims because the procedure concerning non-STE recipients' use of STE portions of TRQs appears in China's legal instruments, and China acknowledges that its legal instruments do not prevent the NDRC from allocating STE portions to non-STE applicants, in which case this procedure would be relevant.292
7.114.
We recall that non-STE recipients of STE portions of TRQs must import through a designated STE or, if unsuccessful by 15 August, seek approval from the NDRC to import on their own or through any other enterprise.293 It is undisputed that COFCO is the only designated STE for grains, and that there is no requirement in China's legal instruments for COFCO to agree to contract with non‑STE recipients of STE portions of TRQs. It is also undisputed that there is no clarification, in China's legal instruments or elsewhere, of the procedure to be followed by non-STE recipients of STE portions when seeking approval to import without COFCO following 15 August.294 In light of this, we consider that applicants and other interested parties cannot easily anticipate how non-STE recipients are to import wheat, rice, and corn under STE portions of TRQs, in violation of China's obligation to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis. Similarly, we consider that the procedure for seeking approval to import without COFCO is not set out in plain or obvious detail, in violation of China's obligation to administer its TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.
7.115.
Turning to the effects of this procedure on the filling of China's TRQs, we note that non‑STE recipients are prevented from utilizing STE portions of their TRQ allocations if they do not succeed in contracting with COFCO or obtaining approval from the NDRC to import without COFCO.295 We also agree with the United States that the effects go beyond the possibilities for non-STE recipients to utilize STE portions of their TRQs allocations. Under China's legal regime, non-STE recipients that are prevented from utilizing STE portions of their TRQs allocations would not be eligible to apply for reallocation. Furthermore, they may face penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations in the form of deductions in the TRQ amounts allocated to them in the following year.296 In our view, the restrictions imposed on the possibilities for non-STE recipients to utilize STE portions of their TRQ allocations, and the implications on their ability to participate in reallocation and to receive the full amount of TRQ allocations in future years, violate China's obligation to administer its TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.

7.1.4.4.5 Conclusion

7.116.
For the reasons set out above, we find that the administration of STE and non-STE portions of the TRQs is inconsistent with the obligations, set forth in Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report, to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, to use clearly specified administrative procedures, and to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.

7.1.4.5 Public notice

7.1.4.5.1 Introduction

7.117.
The United States claims that the extent of the public notice provided in connection with the allocation, return and reallocation of China's wheat, rice, and corn TRQs violates three obligations under Paragraph 116, namely the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, and in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ. China rejects the entirety of the United States' claims.
7.118.
Below, we describe the extent of the public notice provided by China and summarize the parties' main arguments. We then assess whether the extent of the public notice provided in connection with the allocation, return, and reallocation of China's TRQs is inconsistent with the three obligations the United States has invoked, taking into account our understanding of the meaning and nature of each of the relevant obligations laid out in paragraph 7.9 above.

7.1.4.5.2 Extent of the public notice at issue

7.119.
The annual allocation notices set out the total TRQ amounts available for allocation in any given year. In the 2017 Allocation Notice, the total TRQ amounts available for allocation were as follows:

The 2017 grain import tariff-rate quota quantities are: wheat – 9,636 million tons, with a state trading proportion of 90%; corn – 7.20 million tons, with a state trading proportion of 60%; [] rice – 5.32 million tons (of which: 2.66 million tons of long-grain rice and 2.66 million tons of medium- and short-grain rice), with a state trading proportion of 50%.297

It is undisputed that China does not provide public notice of the TRQ amounts that are actually allocated, returned, or reallocated, in respect of individual applicants or in the aggregate.

7.1.4.5.3 Main arguments of the parties

7.120.
First, the United States contends that China violates the obligation to administer its TRQs on a transparent basis by failing to provide public notice of (i) the total amounts of allocated TRQs and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (ii) the total amounts of returned TRQs, (iii) the total TRQ amounts available for reallocation, (iv) the total amounts of reallocated TRQs, (v) the names of individual enterprises that receive TRQ allocations or reallocations, (vi) the TRQ amounts allocated to each individual recipient, and (vii) the TRQ amounts reallocated to each individual recipient.298 In the United States' view, an applicant cannot understand the reasons for his own outcome or how the NDRC allocates and reallocates returned TRQ amounts without public notice of the outcomes of the allocation and reallocation processes, i.e. items (i) and (iv) through (vii).299 Further, the United States argues that applicants cannot know whether reallocation will or did take place in any given year, without public notice of the TRQ amounts returned and made available for reallocation, i.e. items (ii) and (iii).300
7.121.
Second, the United States contends that China violates the obligation to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis by failing to provide public notice of (i) the total amounts of returned TRQs, (ii) the total TRQ amounts available for reallocation, (iii) the total amounts of reallocated TRQs, (iv) the names of individual enterprises that receive TRQ reallocations, and (v) the TRQ amounts reallocated to each individual recipient.301 Similar to its arguments concerning transparency, the United States argues that an applicant cannot predict how the NDRC will reallocate returned TRQ amounts without public notice of the outcomes of the reallocation process, i.e. items (iii) through (v).302 Further, the United States argues that applicants cannot know whether reallocation will take place, and if so in what amount, without public notice of the TRQ amounts returned and made available for reallocation, i.e. items (i) and (ii).303
7.122.
Third, the United States contends that China violates the obligation to administer its TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ, by failing to provide public notice of (i) the total amounts of allocated TRQs and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (ii) the total amounts of returned TRQs and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (iii) the total TRQ amounts available for reallocation and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (iv) the total amounts of reallocated TRQs and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (v) the names of individual enterprises that receive TRQ allocations or reallocations, (vi) the TRQ amounts allocated to each individual recipient, and (vii) the TRQ amounts reallocated to each individual recipient.304 In the United States' view, traders lack the "necessary commercial information to engage in importation" under the TRQs without public notice of the outcomes of the allocation and reallocation processes, i.e. items (i) and (iv) through (vii).305 Further, the United States argues that potential applicants are less likely to apply for reallocation or more likely to apply for smaller amounts without public notice of the total TRQ amounts returned and made available for reallocation, i.e. items (ii) and (iii).306
7.123.
China generally argues that the United States' arguments regarding the scope of public notice go too far, maintaining that "the additional information requested by the United States is not supported by a reasonable definition of transparency".307 China submits that applicants that desire further clarification on the NDRC's allocation and reallocation of TRQ amounts can submit an inquiry for further information.308 China also argues that the information required by the United States is not of the kind that would contribute to the filling of the TRQs, since the names of all applicants are published in the annual announcements of applicant enterprise data, and exporters can use this information to contact applicants to inquire whether they have received TRQ allocations and whether they wish to enter into commercial arrangements for the importation of wheat, rice, and corn under such TRQ allocations.309 Furthermore, China argues that grain importers who receive TRQ allocations or reallocations can initiate commercial arrangements with exporters, and that the United States' argument is "based on a theoretical marketplace where only grain-exporting entities have agency".310
7.124.
Lastly, China submits that it is not possible, under the timeline contained in its legal instruments and its Schedule CLII, to provide public notice of the amounts of returned TRQ amounts available for reallocation prior to the deadline for submitting applications for reallocation.311 In China's view, it is "pure speculation" for the United States to assert that this lack of information renders applicants less likely to apply for reallocation or more likely to apply for smaller amounts.312

7.1.4.5.4 Analysis by the Panel

7.125.
Below, we assess the United States' claims under the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, and in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ, in turn.
7.126.
With respect to the United States' claim that China violates the obligation to administer its TRQs on a transparent basis, the United States argues that Paragraph 116 requires China to give public notice of (i) the total amounts of allocated TRQs and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (ii) the total amounts of returned TRQs, (iii) the total TRQ amounts available for reallocation, (iv) the total amounts of reallocated TRQs, (v) the names of individual enterprises that receive TRQ allocations or reallocations, (vi) the TRQ amounts allocated to each individual recipient, and (vii) the TRQ amounts reallocated to each individual recipient.
7.127.
At the outset, we note that the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis is a general obligation that does not specifically require public notice of information, let alone public notice of the detailed types of information identified by the United States. This stands in contrast to many other provisions of the covered agreements that require publication or notification of specific types of information.313 Notably, Article XIII:3 of the GATT 1994, which we address in section 7.2 below, sets out specific publication or notification obligations in relation to the use of TRQs. We are therefore not convinced that the reference to "transparent" in Paragraph 116, in and of itself, requires China to publish the types of information identified by the United States. In our view, the United States has not demonstrated that China's failure to give public notice of such information entails that the basis for its TRQ administration is not transparent.
7.128.
More particularly, and as mentioned in paragraph 7.9 above, the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis requires China to administer its TRQs through an underlying set of rules or principles that are easily understood or discerned by applicants and other interested parties. Above, we have made several findings requiring China to further clarify, in its legal instruments, the various rules and principles through which the NDRC administers TRQs. However, we are not convinced that knowledge of the outcomes of the NDRC's allocation and reallocation processes – including the identities of individual TRQ recipients and the TRQ amounts allocated and reallocated to them as well as the cumulative amounts of TRQ allocations and reallocations and their STE and non-STE ratios – is necessary for applicants and other interested parties to easily understand or discern the underlying set of rules or principles through which the NDRC administers TRQs.
7.129.
We are also not convinced that knowledge of the total amounts of returned TRQs made available for reallocation is necessary for applicants and other interested parties to easily understand or discern the underlying set of rules or principles through which the NDRC administers TRQs. The 2017 Reallocation Notice states that unused TRQ amounts must be returned by 15 September and that the NDRC and the Ministry of Commerce "will carry out reallocation of the quotas that are returned".314 In other words, applicants and other interested parties know that reallocation will take place if allocated TRQ amounts are returned, and that any such amounts of returned TRQs will be available for reallocation. The United States has not explained why this information does not suffice to allow applicants and other interested parties to easily understand or discern the underlying rules or principles through which the NDRC reallocates returned TRQ amounts. As further support for this conclusion, we note that the timeline for reallocation, set forth in China's legal instruments and in its Schedule CLII, requires applications for reallocation to be filed between 1 and 15 September and requires unused TRQ amounts to be returned by 15 September.315 Thus, we agree with China that this timeline would not allow the NDRC to provide public notice of the total amounts of returned TRQs that are available for reallocation prior to the deadline for applying for reallocation of such TRQ amounts. In response to this argument, the United States maintains that China should publish the total amounts of returned TRQs that were made available for reallocation following the deadline for applicants to apply for reallocation, "to confirm amounts were returned and reallocated".316 Alternatively, the United States argues that China should publish "daily or weekly updates reporting amounts returned" during the reallocation application period.317 However, the United States has not explained how this type of subsequent public notice or weekly or daily updates would be necessary for applicants and other interested parties to easily understand or discern the underlying set of rules or principles through which the NDRC reallocates returned TRQ amounts.
7.130.
With respect to the United States' claim that China violates the obligation to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis, the United States argues that Paragraph 116 requires China to give public notice of (i) the total amounts of returned TRQs, (ii) the total TRQ amounts available for reallocation, (iii) the total amounts of reallocated TRQs, (iv) the names of individual enterprises that receive TRQ reallocations, and (v) the TRQ amounts reallocated to each individual recipient. We reject the United States' arguments for essentially the same reasons as those explained in relation to the obligation to administer TRQs on a transparent basis. More particularly, we do not consider that knowledge of the listed information is necessary to render China's TRQ administration predictable, in other words to enable applicants and other interested parties to easily anticipate how the NDRC reallocates returned TRQ amounts.
7.131.
With respect to the United States' claim that China violates the obligation to administer its TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ, the United States argues that Paragraph 116 requires China to give public notice of (i) the total amounts of allocated TRQs and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (ii) the total amounts of returned TRQs and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (iii) the total TRQ amounts available for reallocation and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (iv) the total amounts of reallocated TRQs and the ratio of STE and non-STE portions thereof, (v) the names of individual enterprises that receive TRQ allocations or reallocations, (vi) the TRQ amounts allocated to each individual recipient, and (vii) the TRQ amounts reallocated to each individual recipient.
7.132.
In our view, the United States has not demonstrated that China's failure to give public notice of the information listed by the United States violates China's obligation to administer its TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ. More particularly, the United States' call for public notice of the outcomes of the NDRC's allocation and reallocation processes – including the identities of individual TRQ recipients and the TRQ amounts allocated and reallocated to them as well as the cumulative amounts of TRQ allocations and reallocations and their STE and non-STE ratios – is premised on the argument that this information is necessary for grain importers and exporters to enter into commercial arrangements for the importation of wheat, rice, and corn under the allocated or reallocated TRQ amounts. However, nothing in China's legal instruments prevents TRQ recipients from publishing their allocation or reallocation outcomes or from contacting grains exporters, should they wish to enter into commercial arrangements for the importation of grains under their allocated or reallocated TRQ amounts.
7.133.
We are also not convinced by the United States' argument that the lack of public notice of the total TRQ amounts returned and made available for reallocation would make applicants less likely to apply for reallocation or more likely to apply for smaller amounts, in a manner that would inhibit the filling of each TRQ. As pointed out by the United States, the receipt of a TRQ reallocation is a commercial benefit.318 Applicants know that the NDRC will reallocate any returned TRQ amounts. The United States has not demonstrated why applicants would forego the possibility of receiving such a commercial benefit solely because they do not know the exact amounts of returned TRQs made available for reallocation in any given year. As mentioned above, we find further support for this conclusion in the timeline for reallocation, set forth in China's legal instruments and in its Schedule CLII, which would not allow the NDRC to provide public notice of the total amounts of returned TRQs that are available for reallocation prior to the deadline for applying for reallocation of such TRQ amounts.

7.1.4.5.5 Conclusion

7.134.
For the reasons set out above, we find that the United States has not made a prima facie case that the extent of the public notice provided in connection with the allocation, return, and reallocation of China's wheat, rice, and corn TRQs is inconsistent with the obligations, set forth in Paragraph 116, to administer TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, and in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.

7.1.4.6 Usage requirements for wheat, rice, and corn imported under TRQ allocations

7.1.4.6.1 Introduction

7.135.
The United States claims that China's imposition of usage requirements in respect of wheat, rice, and corn imported under TRQ allocations violates the obligation under Paragraph 116 to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ. Further, the United States argues that the NDRC's stated practice on enforcing the usage requirements for wheat and corn demonstrates a violation of the obligations under Paragraph 116 to administer TRQs in a predictable manner and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. China rejects the entirety of the United States' claims.
7.136.
Below, we describe the usage requirements at issue and summarize the parties' main arguments. We then assess whether the usage requirements are inconsistent with the obligations the United States has invoked, taking into account our understanding of the meaning and nature of each of the relevant obligations laid out in paragraph 7.9 above.

7.1.4.6.2 Usage requirements at issue

7.137.
The 2017 Allocation Notice sets out the following usage requirements for wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations:

The aforementioned grain import tariff-rate quotas obtained by an applicant must be self-used, and the imported goods are required to be operated for processing by the enterprise itself. Among these [goods], imported wheat and corn are required to be processed and used in its own plant;319

Group enterprises that own multiple processing plants must independently apply for and independently use import tariff-rate quotas in the name of each processing plant.320

7.138.
For rice imported under TRQs, the 2017 Allocation Notice sets out the following usage requirements:

The aforementioned grain import tariff-rate quotas obtained by an applicant must be self-used, and the imported goods are required to be operated for processing by the enterprise itself. Among these [goods], … imported [] rice is required to be organized for sale in the name of the enterprise itself.321

Trade-type enterprises applying for [] rice import tariff-rate quotas may choose to apply in the name of the group headquarters or a subsidiary enterprise, but the headquarters and the subsidiary enterprise must not apply at the same time.322

7.1.4.6.3 Main arguments of the parties

7.139.
With respect to wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations, the United States points to the usage requirements in the 2017 Annual Allocation Notice that such wheat and corn must be "processed and used" in the TRQ recipient's own plant and that group enterprises with multiple plants must individually apply for TRQ allocations in the name of each plant and individually process wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations in each plant.323 The United States argues that the inability of a recipient to sell imported wheat and corn that has not been processed in its own plant and the inability of group enterprises with multiple plants to process wheat and corn in their other plants "in the event [their] business needs or plans change" raise uncertainty and increase costs.324 With respect to rice imported under TRQ allocations, the United States points to the usage requirement in the 2017 Annual Allocation Notice that such rice must be "organized for sale in the name of" the recipient and that group enterprises "may choose to apply [for rice TRQ allocations] in the name of the group headquarters or a subsidiary enterprise, but the headquarters and the subsidiary enterprise must not apply at the same time".325 Since recipients face penalties for non‑use of TRQ allocations in the form of deductions to the TRQ amounts allocated in the following year, the United States argues that the usage requirements for wheat, rice, and corn will incentivize applicants to request "a smaller TRQ amount than it may otherwise wish to receive for commercial purposes".326 In the United States' view, the combination of the usage requirements and the penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations "would tend to limit importation under the TRQs and therefore inhibit the filling of the TRQs" in violation of Paragraph 116.327
7.140.
With respect to wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations, China argues that the usage requirement and penalties for non-use are necessary for the filling of TRQs, since applicants would otherwise be able to apply for a larger allocation of wheat and corn TRQs "solely to reduce the amounts available to [their] competitors".328 Further, China argues that its Schedule CLII "requires" or "contemplates" the usage requirements for wheat and corn and the penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations, indicating that these are consistent with Paragraph 116.329 China also states that the NDRC, in practice, does not "monitor whether recipients comply with the processing requirement on a daily basis" and would not subject a recipient to penalties if it is found to be "unable to process its full allocation for unexpected reasons".330 In China's view, this renders the United States' argument "unfounded".331 With respect to rice imported under TRQs, China argues that there is no processing requirement332, and that such rice is only required to be sold by the recipient itself.333 In China's view, this requirement "alerts applicants that they will be accountable for utilizing their allocations, thereby incentivizing efficient use of allocations and deterring unlawful sales of TRQ Certificates".334
7.141.
The United States responds that China has not provided evidence demonstrating the existence of the NDRC's stated practice of not enforcing the usage requirements for wheat and corn if a recipient does not have sufficient processing capacity for unexpected reasons. In any event, since the annual allocation notices give applicants the impression that they must process wheat and corn in their own plants "regardless of China's actual practice, the inhibiting effect of this requirement remains".335 In the United States' view, the NDRC's stated practice demonstrates that China violates the obligations to administer its TRQs on a predictable basis and to use clearly specified administrative procedures, since China's legal instruments do not support China's argument on the "varied application" of the usage requirements, nor indicate how the NDRC determines an applicant's processing capacity for purposes of the usage requirements.336

7.1.4.6.4 Analysis by the Panel

7.142.
Below, we assess, first, the United States' claims concerning the usage requirements for wheat and corn set out in China's legal instruments, as well as China's statement concerning the NDRC's practice on enforcing these requirements. We then address the United States' claim pertaining to the usage requirement for rice imported under TRQs.

7.1.4.6.4.1 Usage requirements for wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations

7.143.
The usage requirements for wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations are set out in the 2017 Allocation Notice and quoted in paragraph 7,137 above. According to these, a recipient of a wheat or corn TRQ allocation is required to process the imported wheat or corn in its own plant. For group enterprises, the imported wheat or corn must be processed separately in each processing plant that has applied for and received wheat or corn TRQ allocations. The United States claims that these usage requirements violate the obligation to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.
7.144.
We agree with the United States that these requirements restrain recipients' ability to use wheat or corn imported under their TRQ allocations in the most efficient or commercially preferable manner. In our view, circumstances in the market may sometimes make it more efficient or commercially preferable for a TRQ recipient to contract with another enterprise for the processing of its imported wheat or corn, or to sell that wheat or corn without processing. Similarly, there may be circumstances where it would be more efficient or commercially preferable for a group enterprise to have its imported wheat or corn processed in a plant different than that which applied for a TRQ allocation. The usage requirements for wheat and corn set out in China's legal instruments would prevent TRQ recipients from pursuing these business options.
7.145.
The operation of the usage requirements for wheat and corn is such that applicants know that they must process wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations in their own plant and will therefore import the amounts of wheat and corn that they can process in their own plant. The operation of the penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations is such that applicants know that they will face deductions to their TRQ allocations in the following year if they do not import the full amounts of wheat or corn under their TRQ allocations.337 Therefore, the operation of the usage requirements for wheat and corn, in conjunction with the penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations, is such that applicants will apply for TRQ amounts that they know they can process in their own plant. In our view, this would cause applicants to be overly cautious in deciding the TRQ amounts that they will apply for. We find convincing the argument that, in the absence of such requirements, applicants would apply for larger TRQ amounts. Consequently, we consider that the usage requirements restrain the filling of China's wheat and corn TRQs, and therefore violate the obligation to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.
7.146.
China argues that its Schedule CLII "indicates that imposing end-use requirements and penalties is consistent with Paragraph 116".338 With respect to penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations, China points to the following part of its Schedule:

For all methods of allocation, a quota-holder that does not import its full allocation under a tariff-quota will receive a proportional reduction in the tariff-quota allocation in the subsequent year unless the quantity is returned to the SDPC prior to 15 September. A quota holder that has failed to import its full allocation in two consecutive years and has returned that unused portion by 15 September shall have its quota allocated in the following year on the basis of its fill rate in the most recent year, and will not benefit from any additional reallocations until and unless there are no other applications. The means of calculating the penalty will be included in the TRQ regulation in force and publicly available, and will be applied in a consistent and equitable manner.339

7.147.
We recall that the United States does not challenge China's imposition of such penalties per se.340 Rather, the United States' arguments and our findings concern the issue of whether the usage requirements, including how these operate in conjunction with the penalties for non-use, inhibit the filling of TRQs. Hence, we do not consider the reference, in China's Schedule CLII, to penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations to be relevant to the claim at hand.
7.148.
With regard to the usage requirements, China points to the following part of its Schedule:

In the first year, allocations to end users by the SDPC of the tariff-quota … shall be based on a first-come, first-served system or the requests of the applicants and their historical import performance, production capacity, or other relevant commercial criteria, subject to specific conditions to be published one month in advance of the opening of the application period so as to ensure an equitable distribution and complete tariff-quota utilization.341

7.149.
As the United States pointed out, production capacity is referenced in China's Schedule as a factor China may take into account in allocating the TRQ amounts during the first year. The cited part of the Schedule contains no direct reference to processing or other types of usage requirements for wheat and corn imported under TRQ allocations. We understand China to argue that applicants should infer the usage requirements from the reference in the Schedule to processing capacity as a factor for allocating the TRQ amounts. More particularly, China argues that "[t]aking an enterprise's capacity to produce processed grains into account is only logical if enterprises are required to process grains in their own facilities" and that "[a]bsent this end-use requirement, there would be no purpose for collecting and considering production capacity data".342 We do not necessarily disagree that production capacity and the usage requirements are related to a certain extent: if production capacity is taken into account in allocating the TRQ amounts, TRQ recipients may well have capacity to process wheat and corn imported under their TRQ allocations.343 This, however, is not pertinent to the present claim which concerns the inhibiting effect of the usage requirements on the filling of China's TRQs. As noted above, our finding that the usage requirements would inhibit the filling of China's wheat and corn TRQs is based on their restraining effect on the ability of recipients to dispose of wheat and corn imported under their TRQ allocations in the most efficient and commercially preferable manner. Our finding of inconsistency of the usage requirements with the obligation to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ, therefore, stands regardless of whether China takes processing capacity into account in the allocation of TRQ amounts.
7.150.
China also maintains that the processing requirements for wheat and corn are necessary to "encourage the filling of each TRQ".344 More specifically, China submits that "if a TRQ applicant could apply for an allocation with no concern for being held accountable for processing that allocation, an applicant could apply for a larger allocation solely to reduce the amounts available to its competitors".345 However, this argument disregards the fact that such applicants would, under China's legal instruments, face penalties for non-use of their TRQ allocations. Specifically, if an applicant applies for "a larger allocation solely to reduce the amounts available to its competitors", that applicant must return any unused TRQ amounts and would face penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations.346 As we understand the operation of China's TRQ administration, and as pointed out by China itself347, it is the penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations that serve to encourage TRQ recipients to fully use TRQ amounts allocated to them. The usage requirements do not serve that purpose, but rather restrict the TRQ recipients' ability to dispose of the imported wheat and corn as their commercial needs require. We therefore do not find this argument convincing.
7.151.
Lastly, China submits that usage requirements are "common components" of TRQ administration, imposed by several Members, including the United States.348 In this regard, we note that the present claim has been brought under China's Working Party Report, which contains specific obligations undertaken by China with regard to its TRQ administration.
7.152.
Having assessed the usage requirements for wheat and corn set out in China's legal instruments, we now turn to consider the implications of China's statement concerning the NDRC's practice on enforcing these requirements. China's statement is that the NDRC, in practice, does not "monitor whether recipients comply with the processing requirement on a daily basis" and would not subject a recipient to penalties if it is "unable to process its full allocation for unexpected reasons".349 The United States claims that this stated practice violates the obligations to administer TRQs on a predictable basis and to use clearly specified administrative procedures.
7.153.
First, we note that, as pointed out by the United States350, China has provided no evidence of the NDRC's practice, let alone evidence that applicants are made aware of such practice.351 We agree with the United States that applicants will apply for TRQs, and process wheat and corn imported under their TRQ allocations, taking into consideration the usage requirements announced to the public through China's legal instruments, and not on the basis of any unknown practice of the NDRC.352 Second, we note that China itself maintains that the usage requirements for wheat and corn apply in all circumstances and that the NDRC's stated practice only concerns the monitoring of TRQ recipients' compliance with these and the consequences in situations where recipients are unable to process wheat and corn for unexpected reasons.353 Our finding that the usage requirements for wheat and corn would inhibit the filling of China's TRQs is based on their restraining effect on the ability of recipients to efficiently dispose of wheat and corn in all circumstances, not only in situations where they are unable to process wheat and corn for unexpected reasons. Therefore, China's statement concerning the NDRC's practice does not alter our finding that the usage requirements for wheat and corn inhibit the filling of TRQs.
7.154.
We also agree with the United States' claims that China's statement concerning the NDRC's practice serves to demonstrate inconsistencies with the obligations under Paragraph 116 to administer TRQs on a predictable basis and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. China's legal instruments set out the usage requirements for wheat and corn as generally applicable in all circumstances. As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, China has presented no evidence that applicants and other interested parties are made aware of the NDRC's stated practice of not enforcing the usage requirements and imposing penalties if a recipient is found to be "unable to process its full allocation for unexpected reasons". China's statement concerning the NDRC's practice therefore demonstrates that applicants and other interested parties cannot easily anticipate how the NDRC, in practice, enforces the usage requirements for wheat and corn, in violation of the obligation to administer TRQs on a predictable basis. Similarly, China's statement demonstrates that the NDRC, in practice, enforces the usage requirements in a manner that is not set out in plain or obvious detail, in violation of the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures.

7.1.4.6.4.2 Usage requirement for rice imported under TRQ allocations

7.155.
The usage requirement for rice imported under TRQ allocations is set out in the 2017 Allocation Notice and quoted above in paragraph 7,138. According to this requirement, a recipient of a rice TRQ allocation must organize the sale of the imported rice in its own name. Group enterprises may only submit a single application and must apply for rice TRQ allocations either in the name of the headquarters or a subsidiary enterprise. For group enterprises, imported rice must be organized for sale in the name of the enterprise that applied for the rice TRQ allocation, be that the headquarters or a subsidiary enterprise.354 The United States claims that these requirements violate the obligation to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.
7.156.
In its first written submission, the United States quotes the text of the usage requirement for rice, set out in the 2017 Allocation Notice, and argues that this requirement, like the usage requirements for wheat and corn, "raises uncertainty and therefore increases costs for a TRQ Certificate holder" and "incentivizes applicants to request a smaller TRQ amount than it may otherwise wish to receive for commercial purposes".355 When asked for further elaboration, the United States argues that the requirement for rice "constrains the TRQ holder's ability to respond as business needs or plans change, fosters uncertainty, and therefore increases costs for a TRQ Certificate holder"356 and that it is "a restriction on normal business practices and therefore make[s] it more burdensome to import rice".357
7.157.
Taking into account the entirety of the United States' arguments concerning the usage requirement for rice, it is still not clear to us howthis requirement "constrains the TRQ holder's ability to respond as business needs or plans change" or in what wayit poses "a restriction on normal business practices and therefore make[s] it more burdensome to import rice".
7.158.
At times, the United States appears to argue that the usage requirement for rice would inhibit the filling of China's TRQs in the same manner as the usage requirements for wheat and corn.358 Yet the usage requirements for wheat and corn require that imported wheat and corn be processed in the recipient's own plant. The United States does not specifically argue that such a processing requirement applies to rice imported under TRQ allocations. At other times, the United States argues that it "understands Article V(2) to require … that the rice should be bagged and marketed to downstream consumers by that entity itself, under its own name".359 China, however, rejects this interpretation, arguing that the usage requirement for rice "only requires a recipient to sell the rice imported under the TRQ itself, without imposing any other restrictions such as the types of buyers, the appearance of the seller's names on the bag, etc".360 In response, the United States argues that China "does not clarify whether [recipients] must self-process the rice in the production of some downstream product"361 and points to China having "conceded that the term 'organize for sale' is confusing".362
7.159.
The United States has challenged the usage requirement for rice only under the obligation to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ. In our view, this requires the United States to demonstrate not only that the usage requirement for rice is confusing or lacks clarity, but also that it has a restraining effect on the filling of China's rice TRQ. In this regard, we recall that "[a] complaining party may not simply submit evidence and expect the panel to divine from it a claim of WTO-inconsistency".363 Therefore, we find that the United States has not made a prima facie case that the usage requirement for rice violates China's obligation to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.
7.160.
The United States also submits that the requirement for group enterprises applying for a rice TRQ allocation would inhibit the filling of China's TRQs, arguing that "an enterprise with subsidiaries must not apply in the same TRQ year as its subsidiary" and that "[t]he requirement therefore has the effect of inhibiting the filling of the TRQs".364 Again, the United States fails to explain how the requirement for group enterprises would inhibit the filling of China's rice TRQ. Therefore, this argument by the United States also falls short of making a prima facie case that China violates the obligation to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.

7.1.4.6.5 Conclusion

7.161.
For the reasons set out above, we find that the usage requirements for wheat and corn are inconsistent with the obligations, set forth in Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report, to administer TRQs on a predictable basis, to use clearly specified administrative procedures, and to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ. We further find that the United States has not made a prima facie case that the usage requirement for rice is inconsistent with the obligation, set forth in Paragraph 116, to administer TRQs in a manner that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.

7.1.5 Overall assessment of China's TRQ administration under Paragraph 116

7.162.
The United States challenges China's administration of its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs under six of the obligations set forth in Paragraph 116 of China's Working Party Report. Each of the alleged violations of these six obligations challenges specific aspects of China's TRQ administration. In the preceding sections, we have assessed the United States' claims against those specific aspects of China's TRQ administration. In so doing, we have also highlighted, where relevant, the interlinkages between some of the specific aspects. As indicated in paragraph 7.13 above, we will, in this section, provide a holistic assessment of the compatibility of China's TRQ administration with the obligations set forth in Paragraph 116, by synthesizing our analyses regarding the individual aspects of China's TRQ administration.
7.163.
The measure at issue, namely, China's administration of its wheat, rice, and corn TRQs, consists of relevant legal instruments adopted by China, such as the 2003 Provisional Measures and the annual allocation and reallocation notices, as well as the practice of the relevant government agencies, in this case the NDRC. Essentially, China's TRQ administration comprises rules and practices that regulate the TRQ application process; the NDRC's evaluation of the applications to determine whether applicants are eligible to receive TRQs and what TRQ amounts to allocate, including through seeking comments from the public; the granting of TRQ certificates; the process for importation under allocated TRQ amounts; the use of wheat, rice, and corn imported under TRQs; the return of unused TRQ amounts; and the reallocation of returned TRQ amounts. The United States has brought claims with respect to all of these aspects, arguing violations of various obligations set forth in Paragraph 116.
7.164.
The first stage in China's TRQ administration is the initial allocation process. This process starts with applicants submitting their applications and related materials to the NDRC's local agencies. At this stage, applicants must show their compliance with the basic eligibility criteria, set out in the annual allocation notices. Above, we have found the four basic eligibility criteria the United States challenges to be vague, and therefore inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, and to use clearly specified requirements. We have also found the NDRC's stated practice of assessing eligibility on the basis of whether an applicant appears on Credit China's blacklist, and disregarding the remaining basic eligibility criteria set out in the annual allocation notices, to be inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified requirements. Given that the basic eligibility criteria determine which applicants will receive TRQs, our findings about these criteria indicate that the very foundation of China's TRQ administration is flawed. Indeed, China also acknowledges this flaw in stating that its legal instruments should be updated to better reflect the NDRC's practice.
7.165.
Once the NDRC has decided which applicants are eligible to receive TRQ allocations, it determines the TRQ amounts that will be allocated to the eligible applicants. The interlinkage between the basic eligibility criteria and allocation principles is obvious: the NDRC only considers eligible applicants in the allocation of TRQ amounts. Allocation decisions are made by applying the allocation principles, set out in the annual allocation notices. Above, we have found elements of the allocation principles to be vague, and therefore inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. We have also found the NDRC's stated practice of giving the most weight to actual import performance, rather than taking into account all allocation principles set out in the annual allocation notices, to be inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis. Our findings about the allocation principles show that, like the NDRC's determination of applicants' eligibility to receive TRQs, the NDRC's determination of what TRQ amounts to allocate is also based on unclear rules and principles.
7.166.
Before allocating TRQs to eligible applicants, the NDRC conducts a public comment process. While the evidence on the record shows that the NDRC seeks the public's comments on the enterprise data contained in the received TRQ application forms, China's legal instruments do not explain the details of this process, including, importantly, whether applicants are informed of comments about their applications and have an opportunity to rebut any such comments. We have found this to be inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. The public's comments are relevant to the NDRC's assessment of applicants' eligibility and the allocation of TRQ amounts to eligible applicants. The ambiguity in the public comment process therefore carries over, and adds to, the vagueness in the basic eligibility criteria and the allocation principles. Just as applicants are not aware, at the outset, of the criteria and principles for assessing their applications, they are also not aware, at the public comment stage, whether the public has commented on their applications, and if so, whether they would have a chance to rebut any such comments. Taken together, our findings on the basic eligibility criteria, the allocation principles, and the public comment process show that the actors in the market are not able to know on what basis the NDRC decides who will receive TRQ allocations and in what amounts.
7.167.
One important aspect of China's TRQ administration is the distinction between the STE and non-STE portions of TRQs. This distinction is important because, as we observed above, the procedure for the importation of wheat, rice, and corn under an STE portion involves additional requirements compared to the procedure for importation under a non-STE portion. Above, we made findings of violation about the administration of STE and non-STE portions of TRQs in three regards.
7.168.
First, we have found that whereas China's legal instruments suggest that non-STE applicants can receive STE as well as non-STE portions of TRQs, those instruments do not explain the basis on which the NDRC allocates these two different portions, and whether applicants can apply for one or the other of these portions. We have found this to be inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent and predictable basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures.
7.169.
Second, we have found the NDRC's stated practice of allocating the entire STE portions of TRQs to China's designated STE COFCO and not requiring COFCO to return unused TRQ amounts, without regard for the rules and principles set out in its legal instruments, to be inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. This stated practice, we have found, also inhibits the filling of China's TRQs by precluding non-STE applicants from applying for reallocation of COFCO's unused TRQ amounts.
7.170.
Third, we have found that the additional requirements in the procedure for importation under STE portions of TRQs, as well as the lack of clarity as to how it operates, is inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a predictable basis and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. We have also found that this could prevent non-STE recipients from being able to use allocated STE portions of TRQs prior to the 15 September deadline for returning unused TRQ amounts. This would not only preclude TRQ recipients from importing grains under their allocated STE portions of TRQs but would also prevent them from applying for reallocation of returned TRQ amounts and prejudice their chances of receiving TRQ allocations in the future, in a manner that would inhibit the filling of each TRQ. We recall that China's TRQ administration comprises two types of penalties for non-use of TRQ allocations. First, recipients that are unable to fully use their allocated TRQ amounts and fail to return unused amounts to the NDRC by 15 September will see their future TRQ allocations deducted proportionate to the amount that they have failed to return. Second, recipients that fail to fully use their allocated TRQ amounts during two consecutive years are subject to the same deductions to their TRQ allocations in the following year, even if they return unused amounts by 15 September.
7.171.
After importing grains under their TRQ allocations, recipients are subject to the usage requirements set out in the annual allocation notices. As noted above, a recipient of a wheat or corn TRQ allocation must process the wheat or corn imported under its TRQ allocation in its own plant. Above, we have found that the usage requirements for wheat and corn inhibit the filling of China's TRQs because they restrict recipients' ability to process and sell wheat and corn imported under their TRQ allocations in the most efficient or commercially preferable manner. Since non‑use of TRQ allocations results in penalties in the form of deductions in TRQ allocations in the following year, applicants may tend to apply for smaller TRQ amounts than they would have in the absence of the usage requirements. We have also found the NDRC's stated practice of not imposing penalties on recipients that are unable to process their imported wheat and corn for unexpected reasons to be inconsistent with the obligations to administer TRQs on a predictable basis and to use clearly specified administrative procedures. The usage requirements are an important component of China's TRQ administration because they prescribe how TRQ recipients should dispose of the wheat and corn that they import under their TRQ allocations. The inconsistencies we have found in these requirements indicate that China's TRQ administration contains flaws on how TRQ recipients are required to use the grains imported under their TRQ allocations.
7.172.
The final stage of China's TRQ administration, which we have discussed above, is the reallocation stage. Unused TRQ amounts must be returned, by 15 September, to the NDRC for reallocation. Above, we have found that China's legal instruments contain diverging provisions with respect to the basis on which the NDRC reallocates returned TRQ amounts, and concluded that this is inconsistent with the obligation to administer TRQs using clearly specified administrative procedures. This finding shows that there continues to be ambiguity in China's TRQ administration throughout the process.
7.173.
These findings demonstrate that China's TRQ administration contains legal flaws from the beginning through to the completion of the process. On this basis, we conclude that China's TRQ administration, as a whole, is inconsistent with the obligations, set forth in Paragraph 116, to administer TRQs on a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, using clearly specified administrative procedures and requirements that would not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.

7.2 CLAIM UNDER ARTICLE XIII:3(B) OF THE GATT 1994

7.2.1 Introduction

7.174.
The United States claims that China violates Article XIII:3(b) of the GATT 1994 by not providing public notice of the total TRQ amounts that are actually allocated at the initial allocation stage, and the changes to that amount, which occur at the time unused TRQs are returned and reallocated.365 China rejects the entirety of the United States' claim.

7.2.2 Legal provision

7.175.
Article XIII of the GATT 1994 is entitled "Non-discriminatory Administration of Quantitative Restrictions". Its paragraph 3(b) states as follows:

In the case of import restrictions involving the fixing of quotas, the contracting party applying the restrictions shall give public notice of the total quantity or value of the product or products which will be permitted to be imported during a specified future period and of any change in such quantity or value. Any supplies of the product in question which were en route at the time at which public notice was given shall not be excluded from entry; Provided that they may be counted so far as practicable, against the quantity permitted to be imported in the period in question, and also, where necessary, against the quantities permitted to be imported in the next following period or periods; and Provided further that if any contracting party customarily exempts from such restrictions products entered for consumption or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption during a period of thirty days after the day of such public notice, such practice shall be considered full compliance with this subparagraph. (Emphasis original)

7.176.
This provision has not yet been addressed in WTO dispute settlement.
7.177.
Article XIII:5 clarifies that Article XIII applies to TRQs:

The provisions of this Article shall apply to any tariff quota instituted or maintained by any contracting party, and, in so far as applicable, the principles of this Article shall also extend to export restrictions.

7.2.3 Main arguments of the parties

7.178.
The United States argues that China violates the obligation set forth in Article XIII:3(b) of the GATT 1994 to "give public notice of the total quantity or value of the product or products which will be permitted to be imported during a specified future period" by not providing public notice of the TRQ amounts that are actually allocated at the initial allocation stage. In the United States' view, public notice of the total TRQ amounts that are available for allocation does not suffice to meet this obligation.366 The United States further argues that China violates the obligation in Article XIII:3(b) to "give public notice of … any change" in the total quantity or value of the product or products which will be permitted to be imported by not providing public notice of changes to the total amounts of TRQs actually allocated. In the United States' view, this part of the provision requires public notice of the total amount of returned TRQs and the total amount of reallocated TRQs.367
7.179.
China submits that Article XIII:3(b) requires public notice of the total quantity or value of the products that are "initially" fixed, that is the total amounts of TRQs that are initially made available, and not the amounts of TRQs actually allocated, as the United States argues.368 In other words, this provision requires "only the publication of the total TRQ quantities for wheat, rice, and corn, as provided in China's Schedule CLII".369 China also submits that the changes in the total quantity or value for which public notice should be given, are the changes to the total TRQ amounts that are initially fixed or made available for allocation.370

7.2.4 Analysis by the Panel

7.180.
Factually, it is undisputed that China gives public notice of the total TRQ amounts available for allocation each year. Thus far, these amounts have always corresponded to the total TRQ amounts fixed in China's Schedule CLII.371 It is also undisputed that China does not give public notice of the TRQ amounts that are actually allocated, returned and reallocated.
7.181.
Thus, the only issues for us to consider are ones of legal interpretation. Initially, we have to examine whether the obligation under Article XIII:3(b) of the GATT 1994 to "give public notice of the total quantity or value of the product or products which will be permitted to be imported during a specified future period" refers to the total TRQ amounts available for the initial allocation or to the total TRQ amounts that are actually allocated at the initial stage. We must also consider the meaning of the obligation to "give public notice of … any change in such quantity or value". As both parties acknowledge, the second part of Article XIII:3(b) requires public notice of any changes to what is considered to be the object of the initial public notice obligation. Hence, the critical question for us is what is the object of the initial public notice obligation under Article XIII:3(b).
7.182.
We find it useful to start our interpretation of paragraph 3(b) of Article XIII by examining the structure of Article XIII, and clarifying the place of paragraph 3(b) in that structure. Article XIII contains five paragraphs. The first paragraph sets out the basic principle of non-discrimination in the administration of import restrictions.372 The second paragraph sets forth rules concerning the methods for applying import restrictions and the distribution of trade whereas the third paragraph requires different types of public notice, depending on the kind of method used. Finally, the fourth paragraph explains the details of the process in situations where a quota is allocated among supplying countries.
7.183.
In our view, the most relevant parts of Article XIII for the interpretative issues before us are paragraph 2 and the other subparagraphs of paragraph 3.
7.184.
Paragraph 2 of Article XIII explains how trade should be distributed by Members applying import restrictions. The chapeau of this paragraph sets out the main principle that import restrictions should be administered in such a way that the distribution of trade approaches "as closely as possible the shares that various Members may be expected to obtain" in the absence of the restrictions.373 This paragraph then goes on to list, in its subparagraphs (a) through (d), "specific instances of authorized forms of allocation".374 Subparagraph (a) stipulates that, "wherever practicable, quotas representing the total amount of permitted imports (whether allocated among supplying countries or not) shall be fixed, and notice given of their amount in accordance with paragraph 3(b) of this Article". Subparagraph (b) states that "in cases in which quotas are not practicable, the restrictions may be applied by means of import licences or permits without a quota". Hence, these two subparagraphs express a preference for the use of quotas over the use of import licences or permits. Subparagraph (c) states that, except where quotas are allocated among supplying countries as provided for in subparagraph (d), Members shall not require that import licences or permits be utilized for importation from a particular country or source. Subparagraph (d) explains how allocations will be calculated in cases where the importing country allocates a quota among different supplying countries.
7.185.
Hence, paragraph 2 identifies two ways of "applying import restrictions", namely (i) by fixing the total amount of a quota and (ii) by using import licences or permits. It also sets forth obligations to be observed in cases where a quota is allocated among different supplying countries.
7.186.
Paragraph 3 of Article XIII lays down two sets of rules concerning publication or notification in the administration of TRQs, each corresponding to one of the two ways of applying TRQs described in its paragraph 2. Thus, subparagraph (a) of paragraph 3 explains the notification requirements "[i]n cases in which import licences are issued in connection with import restrictions". Subparagraph (b) addresses the notification requirements "[i]n the case of import restrictions involving the fixing of quotas". Subparagraph (c) sets out the notification requirements "[i]n the case of quotas allocated among supplying countries".
7.187.
We find it important to note that each of the subparagraphs of paragraph 3 requires notice of different types of information, under different circumstances. For example, subparagraph (a) requires the importing Member to provide "upon request of any contracting party having an interest in the trade in the product concerned, all relevant information concerning the administration of the restrictions, the import licences granted over a recent period and the distribution of such licences among supplying countries". Subparagraph (b), the provision at issue in this dispute, requires the importing Member to "give public notice of the total quantity or value of the product or products which will be permitted to be imported during a specified future period and of any change in such quantity or value". Subparagraph (c) requires the importing Member to "promptly inform all other contracting parties having an interest in supplying the product concerned of the shares in the quota currently allocated, by quantity or value, to the various supplying countries and shall give public notice thereof".
7.188.
This overview of the obligations in Article XIII shows that the drafters designed this provision in such a way that an importing Member is subject to a particular publication or notification obligation depending on how it administers quantitative restrictions and TRQs. In this case, China's TRQs are administered by fixing their total amounts. The United States has brought a claim under paragraph 3(b), which is the provision that describes the public notice obligations in cases involving the fixing of quotas or TRQs. As noted above, the issue before us is what is the object of the initial public notice obligation to "give public notice of the total quantity or value of the product or products which will be permitted to be imported during a specified future period" under Article XIII:3(b). Is it the total TRQ amounts that are available for allocation or the total amounts of TRQs that are actually allocated?
7.189.
The United States notes that the dictionary meaning of "permit", which appears in the text of Article XIII:3(b), is to "[a]llow the doing or occurrence of; give permission or opportunity for", or "[a]llow or give consent to (a person or a thing) to do or experience something", and argues that, therefore, the obligation under Article XIII:3(b) "refers to those amounts for which consent is given for actual importation during a specified period".375 Therefore, the United States argues that, at the initial stage of TRQ distribution, Article XIII:3(b) requires China to give public notice of "the total amounts authorized on the TRQ Certificates issued to selected applicants".376
7.190.
As argued by the United States, the dictionary meaning of "permit" refers, among other things, to "[a]llow the doing or occurrence of; give permission or opportunity for", or "[a]llow or give consent to (a person or a thing) to do or experience something". However, it is not clear to us how the United States infers from this dictionary definition that, at the initial allocation stage, Article XIII:3(b) requires public notice of the total TRQ amounts actually allocated to TRQ applicants, as opposed to the total TRQ amounts available for allocation. In our view, given the nature of a TRQ, which fixes the total amount of products that may be imported at a reduced in‑quota rate, "give permission or opportunity for" would be better interpreted as referring to the total quantity or value of the TRQ, and not to the amount of actual allocations made by the NDRC. By definition, a TRQ is available for allocation among applicants provided they meet certain conditions laid down in the importing Member's laws and regulations. In other words, applicants are given permission or opportunity to import goods at the in-quota rate, up to the total TRQ amounts available for allocation. This suggests that the obligation in Article XIII:3(b) to "give public notice of the total quantity or value of the product or products which will be permitted to be imported during a specified future period" should be interpreted as requiring public notice of the total TRQ amounts available for allocation to all applicants.
7.191.
In our view, our interpretation accords with the overall structure of Article XIII, outlined above, and the forward-looking nature of the public notice obligation set forth in paragraph 3(b).
7.192.
We recall that "[i]n cases in which import licences are issued in connection with import restrictions", paragraph 3(a) of Article XIII requires the importing Member to provide "all relevant information concerning the administration of the restrictions, the import licences granted over a recent period and the distribution of such licences amount supplying countries". This obligation thus requires the provision of information regarding the administration of restrictions and the licences granted over a past period. In contrast, paragraph 3(b) sets out a forward-looking public notice obligation "[i]n the case of import restrictions involving the fixing of quotas", requiring public notice of "the total quantity or value of the product or products which will be permitted to be imported during a specified future period and of any change in such quantity or value". In our view, whereas the obligation in paragraph 3(a) requires the importing Member to provide information concerning its administration and the import licences actually granted by it over a recent period, the forward-looking obligation in paragraph 3(b) requires public notice of the total TRQ amounts that are available for allocation during a specified future period.
7.193.
This view also finds support in the negotiating history of the GATT. The Report of the Sub‑Committee on Quantitative Restrictions and Exchange Control, dated 21 November 1946, states in relevant part:

It was generally agreed that Members should undertake to supply adequate information about the administration of their import restrictions. In cases in which import licences were used, information should be supplied at the request of any Member having a substantial interest in the trade about the administration of the licenses and about the licenses granted, but there should be no obligation to reveal the names of importing or supplying firms. Where quotas were fixed, public notice should be given in advance of the size of the quota; and where the quota is allocated among supplying countries all Members having an interest in supplying the product should be given prompt notice of the shares of the various countries in the quotas.377

7.194.
This document demonstrates that the drafters' intended, in cases where import restrictions are administered through the fixing of a quota, that public notice should be given "in advance of the size of the quota".378 In our view, the use of the term "in advance" reinforces the view that, where a quota or a TRQ is fixed, public notice of the total amount of the quota or the TRQ should be provided before traders decide to engage in the importation of the relevant product. To us, prior public notice means public notice of the total amount of fixed quotas or TRQs available for allocation. Public notice of the total amounts of quotas or TRQs actually allocated would, in our view, be ex post.
7.195.
We note the United States' argument that "China's pro forma announcement each year of the total TRQ quantities that it has committed to provide in its Schedule is not sufficient".379 In the same vein, the European Union, a third party, argues that China's interpretation would render paragraph 3(b) inutile because the total amount of initially-fixed TRQs is already indicated in China's Schedule CLII.380 We disagree with this argument, for two reasons. First, not all TRQs are found in the Schedules of Members maintaining such TRQs. There are autonomous TRQs that Members adopt without an international obligation to do so. Article XIII:3(b) applies to such TRQs, and allows WTO Members and their exporters to know the total quantity or value of imports that will be permitted under such TRQs during a specified future period. Second, Article XIII:3(b) would also require public notice in cases where a Member decides to increase the quantity or value of its TRQ beyond the quantity or value set forth in its Schedule.
7.196.
These considerations all suggest that the object of the initial notice requirement under Article XIII:3(b) is the total TRQ amounts that are available for allocation. It follows from this that the obligation under Article XIII:3(b) to provide public notice of "any change in such quantity or value" refers to changes in the total amounts of TRQs available for allocation.

7.2.5 Conclusion

7.197.
For the reasons set out above, we conclude that Article XIII:3(b) of the GATT 1994 requires public notice of the total TRQ amounts that are available for allocation, and any changes thereto, and not the total TRQ amounts that are actually allocated, and changes hereto. We therefore reject the United States' claim that China violates Article XIII:3(b) by publishing only the TRQ amounts available for allocation, and any changes thereto.

7.3 CLAIM UNDER ARTICLE X:3(A) OF THE GATT 1994

7.3.1 Introduction

7.198.
The United States claims that China fails to administer its TRQs in a reasonable manner, in violation of Article X:3(a) of the GATT 1994. Under this claim, the United States takes issue with several specific aspects of China's TRQ administration, namely (a) the basic eligibility criteria, (b) the allocation principles, (c) the use of numerous local agencies, (d) the use of a public comment process, (e) the administration of STE and non-STE portions of TRQs, and (f) the extent of the public notice provided in connection with allocation, return and reallocation of TRQs. China rejects the entirety of the United States' claim.

7.3.2 Legal provision