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WTO Addresses US-Mexico Tuna Dispute

Sustainability Politics

US and MEXICO - Following Mexico's claim to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of unfair labelling by the US in regards to the ongoing tuna-dolphin dispute, the WTO has partly agreed with the claims, saying that the US have been more trade-restrictive than neccessary but that the rules do not discriminate.

The announcement by the WTO means that the restrictions on the exporting of tuna from Mexico to the US may be lifted.

Due to claims by the US that Mexico's tuna fishing practices were harming dolphin populations, imports of tuna from Mexico were banned in the US in 1991.

Following the ban, Mexico complained to the WTO in October 2008 that the US's claims were discriminatory and unnecessary.

Mexico stated that the US's labelling practices have discriminated against the country as it has prevented Mexico from being able to label its tuna products 'dolphin safe', which is required to sell in the US market.

After reviewing the case, the WTO concluded that the US's 'dolphin safe' labelling is fair and is in compliance with Annex 1.1 of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, therefore rejecting Mexico's claim.

However, in respect to Article 2.2 of the TBT Agreement, the WTO found that the US is being more restrictive than necessary towards Mexico, in regards to the objectives of informing consumers and protecting dolphins.