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Mexico Threatens Sanctions Against U.S. in Tuna Labeling Case

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman announced July 12 that the U.S. has fully implemented the recommendations and rulings of the World Trade Organization in a dispute brought by Mexico against the U.S. dolphin-safe tuna labeling program. Froman said a July 9 final rule issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service responds to a WTO ruling that its previous dolphin-safe labeling requirements were not “even-handed” by requiring a certification that no dolphins were killed or seriously injured during any tuna fishing operations, regardless of whether they take place within or outside the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

Mexico, which has been seeking to weaken the NMFS’ dolphin-safe regulations for years, has objected to the new stricter standards. A July 11 statement from the Agriculture Ministry said Mexico will seek a WTO determination that the U.S. “has not met its international obligations,” which would allow Mexico to impose retaliatory trade sanctions. The ministry said it has already begun the process of establishing an amount for such retaliation, which would likely comprise the suspension of trade benefits from “a number of productive sectors in the U.S.”

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