"The World Trade Organization (WTO) panel in the Beef Hormones dispute late yesterday announced a decision to open its meetings with the parties to the public. This decision marks the first time in the history of the WTO that such meetings will be made public.
"We are pleased that the panel has agreed to open its meetings with the parties to the public. We have been advocating for open panel meetings at the WTO for years. WTO rules already permit parties to make their statements public. Open hearings help to accomplish this."
The parties to the Hormones dispute (United States, Canada and the European Communities) requested that meetings with the panel be opened to members of the public. The panel granted this request on August 1, 2005. The panel’s letter to the Chairman of the DSB announcing this decision was circulated to Members yesterday. The panel’s meeting with third parties will remain closed. The United States has advocated rule changes that would require open hearings for all WTO disputes.
The details on how the meetings will be made accessible to the public have yet to be finalized, although the panel has decided to broadcast the first meeting via closed-circuit television. The USTR website will post any details as they become available.
The United States has led efforts to increase transparency in international trade forums. Following a US policy adopted under the GATT 1947, the predecessor to the WTO, the United States was the first country to make WTO dispute statements and filings public.