Thursday, May 22, 2014

Waiting for the Seals decision

For those waiting for the Seal dispute decision at the WTO, this piece of news in the Toronto Sun may interest you - Are lobsters next it asks?
"If the European Union is allowed to ban seal imports over "public morality", Environment Minister Leona Agluqqak worries something as pedestrian as lobster fishing might be next on its hit list.
Just days before the World Trade Organization is set to release its final ruling on the EU's seal ban, Agluqqak said the ban is a "slippery slope" and "very dangerous, globally." 
Last year, the WTO upheld the EU's ban by citing a controversial "public morality" clause.Last December, the WTO ruled that although the EU's ban on seal products did indeed break some trade rules, the ban was justified on the grounds of this "public morality" clause — which does not have to be shown to be justified, according to the WTO's rules. 
"It opens up the door for someone to come say: 'We don't like how you kill the lobster and on my moral grounds I'm now going to appeal,'" she said."
Article XX GATT defences and a slippery slope - that sounds familiar.

1 comment:

Anu said...

Srikar- what I find most interesting in the Panel’s assessment was its examination of the elements of Article XX(a). It notes that "the question of whether a measure aims to address public morals relating to a particular concern in the society of a regulating Member requires … an assessment of two issues: first, whether the concern in question indeed exists in that society; and, second, whether such concern falls within the scope of 'public morals' as 'defined and applied' by a regulating Member 'in its territory, according to its own systems and scales of values.”

The panel’s reasoning arguably provides a wide range of policy flexibility to countries to design measures based on public morals- according to its own systems and scales of values. Where the Panel faulted EU was on the basis of the chapeau of Article XX- that the measure was not applied in a manner that would constitute arbitrary or unjustified discrimination where the same conditions prevail or a disguised restriction on international trade.

I am curious to see the AB reasoning on both aspects.