Some of you may recall the recent panel ruling in U.S. - Stainless Steel (Mexico) (DS344), where a panel decided not to follow the Appellate Body's "zeroing" jurisprudence, saying the following in this regard:
7.115 We respectfully disagree with the Appellate Body's reasoning. We recognize that our analysis inevitably resembles that of the panels in the last two cases that dealt with simple zeroing in periodic reviews, US – Zeroing (EC) and US – Zeroing (Japan), and that the Appellate Body reversed those panels' findings that simple zeroing is not inconsistent with Article 9.3 of the Anti-Dumping Agreement. We would like to underline, however, that our analysis is not simply an unthinking repetition of these past panel decisions. Rather, it reflects our own appreciation of the facts and the legal arguments presented by the parties in these proceedings, as is required by our obligation under Article 11 of the DSU to carry out an objective examination of the matter before us.
7.119 We are troubled by the fact that the principal basis of the Appellate Body's reasoning in the zeroing cases seems to be premised on an interpretation that does not have a solid textual basis in the relevant treaty provisions. We recall the rules on treaty interpretation (supra, paras. 7.3-7.5) which we have to follow in these proceedings. We are of the view that a good faith interpretation of the ordinary meaning of the texts of Articles VI:1 and VI:2 of the GATT 1994 and Article 2.1 of the Anti-Dumping Agreement, read in their context and in light of the object and purpose of the mentioned agreements, does not exclude an interpretation that allows the concept of dumping to exist on a transaction-specific basis. We recall that according to the standard of review that we have to follow in these proceedings (supra, paras. 7.1-7.2), we are precluded from excluding an interpretation which we find permissible, even if there may be other permissible interpretations.
Well, the Appellate Body has now circulated its decision in the appeal of that case, and had the following to say:
162. We are deeply concerned about the Panel's decision to depart from well-established Appellate Body jurisprudence clarifying the interpretation of the same legal issues. The Panel's approach has serious implications for the proper functioning of the WTO dispute settlement system, as explained above. Nevertheless, we consider that the Panel's failure flowed, in essence, from its misguided understanding of the legal provisions at issue. Since we have corrected the Panel's erroneous legal interpretation and have reversed all of the Panel's findings and conclusions that have been appealed, we do not, in this case, make an additional finding that the Panel also failed to discharge its duties under Article 11 of the DSU.
In the context of doing so, the Appellate Body offered some helpful clarifications of the role of precedent in the WTO dispute settlement system, including the following: "Ensuring 'security and predictability' in the dispute settlement system, as contemplated in Article 3.2 of the DSU, implies that, absent cogent reasons, an adjudicatory body will resolve the same legal question in the same way in a subsequent case." The "absent cogent reasons" language appears to be the new standard for following precedent: You must follow precedent unless you have "cogent reasons" for doing otherwise.