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Mexico Appeals WTO Ruling on Revised U.S. Dolphin-Safe Tuna Labeling

Wednesday, December 06, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Mexico appealed Dec. 1 the WTO compliance panel ruling on the March 2016 amendments to the U.S. dolphin-safe tuna labeling rules. The compliance panel found that those amendments brought the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations, thereby precluding Mexico from imposing the $163.2 million worth of retaliatory sanctions the WTO had previously authorized.

The U.S. amended its regulations for labeling imported tuna as dolphin-safe in July 2013 in response to a WTO decision that the previous regulations were not “even-handed.” Mexico objected to the revisions and took the issue back to the WTO, where the Appellate Body concluded in December 2015 that the rules continued to unfairly discriminate against tuna imported from Mexico. Mexico subsequently sought to impose $472.3 million in retaliatory sanctions but a WTO arbitrator ultimately lowered that amount to $163.2 million (though those sanctions were never imposed).

In the meantime the U.S. made further amendments to its regulations in March 2016 and requested the creation of a WTO panel to determine whether those changes brought the U.S. into compliance with the WTO’s recommendations and rulings. That panel ruled in favor of the U.S. but Mexico has now lodged an appeal with the Appellate Body, which will generally have up to three months to conclude its report.

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