China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. As an economy undergoing transformation, special trade rules were negotiated and agreed with China to safeguard the interests of the existing WTO membership. Article 15 of China’s WTO Accession Protocol sets out that modified rules for imposing anti-dumping tariffs (less favorable to China) will apply for a period of fifteen years from the accession date. This period expired on 11 December 2016 and since then the interpretation of the provisions in Article 15 of the Accession Protocol has become a bone of contention. The dispute over granting China market economy status (MES), which is associated with the expiry of the special conditions in Article 15 of the Accession Protocol, affects directly the legal basis of EU’s trade (defense) policy towards China.
On 1 February 2017, shortly after the fifteenth anniversary of China’s WTO membership, during a meeting of the Camera dei Deputati (Chamber of Deputies, 734th Meeting, XVII Legislature), Mr. Raffaello Vignali, a member of the Italian Parliament, posed an interpellation to the Ministro dello Sviluppo Economico (Minister of Economic Development), Mr. Carlo Calenda, regarding the issue of granting China MES – which would potentially weaken the competitiveness of Italian companies – and the initiatives undertaken at the European Union (EU) level to achieve a balanced solution.
On 27 October 2017, the Presidente della Repubblica Italiana (President of the Italian Republic, hereinafter President), Mr. Sergio Mattarella, refused to promulgate the law drafted and approved by the Parliament titled “Misure per contrastare il finanziamento delle imprese produttrici di mine antipersona, di munizioni e sub munizioni a grappolo” (Measures to combat the financing of firms manufacturing antipersonnel landmines, cluster munitions and submunitions, hereinafter Law no. 57). In the Italian constitutional system, in order for a law to enter into force the President has to promulgate it, according to Article 73 of the Constitution. To this end, Article 74 confers the President the power to require that the law undergoes a new debate in the two Houses of the Parliament, expressing the reasons for such a request. As explained in the opinion sent to the Senato della Repubblica (Senate of the Republic) and the Camera dei Deputati (Chamber of Deputies), the President identified two problematic features of the law, which are here illustrated.
During 2016, the Italian Government was often questioned before the Parliament about arms exports from Italy to countries where either a conflict was occurring or international norms were being violated. The statements by the different members of the Government highlighted a heterogeneous practice, contingent upon different variables, some of which related to the presence of international measures and others to political considerations of the Government itself.
Throughout 2016, the Italian Government was called upon on several occasions to express its position on the negotiation and approval of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU (CETA). In May 2016, the Government – in contrast with the wide majority of the other EU Member States – announced its willingness to consider CETA as a “EU only agreement”, falling within the sole competence of the EU as part of its commercial policy. On the contrary, in July 2016 the EU Commission decided to qualify CETA as a “mixed agreement”, subject to the approval of each of the national parliaments of the EU Member States. The Government’s view on the matter was expressed in particular on the following occasions:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 485th MEETING, 18 SEPTEMBER 2015
On 18 September 2015, the Government was asked to express its position on the controversial investor-State dispute settlement clauses (ISDS clauses) contained in relevant commercial treaties the European Union has negotiated, or is negotiating, with some of its trade partners (in particular, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Trade Agreement, CETA, and the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP). On behalf of the Government, the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Mr Carlo Calenda, replied that
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SIXTH COMMITTEE (LXVIII Session, XI Meeting), OBSERVER STATUS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE UNIFICATION OF PRIVATE LAW IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY (UNIDROIT), 16 OCTOBER 2013.
On 16 October 2013, during the XI meeting of the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy, Amb. Antonio Bernardini, submitted the draft resolution A/C.6/68/L.5 on the Observer Status for the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) in the General Assembly. Amb. Bernardini expressed support for the further development of the natural links between the Institute and the United Nations, in order to obtain greater mutual benefits and to lay the foundations for positive interactions between the two institutions. He drew the attention of delegations: