Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Yesterday, a dispute resolution panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO) found the European Community (EC) ban on the the importation and marketing of seal products to be contrary to WTO rules. Canada initiated the dispute resolution proceeding in 2009, complaining that the EC Seal Regime violates the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994. The WTO dispute resolution panel agreed.
The EC Seal Regime contained two exceptions to the general ban: one for seal products that resulted from hunts by indigenous communities (IC exception) and one for seal products that resulted from marine resource managment purposes (MRM exception). The panel found that the EC Seal Regime is a technical regulation and that the exceptions violate Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement because they treat imported seal products less well than domestic and other foreign products (e.g., products from Greenland) without legitimate regulatory reason. The panel also found that the EC Seal Regime violates the GATT 1994. The EC now has 60 days in which to determine whether to bring its EC Seal Regime into conformity with the WTO rules or lodge an appeal.
More information on this WTO dispute (DS400) may be found on the WTO website.