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World Trade Organization Reverses Course, Rules in Favor of U.S. Tuna Restrictions

LADB Article ID: 80455
Category/Department: Mexico
Date: 2017-11-08
By: Carlos Navarro

The World Trade Organization (WTO) in late October came out in support of the US position that it does not discriminate against the Mexican fishing industry with its strict requirements on the sustainable catch of tuna in the Pacific Ocean. The WTO ruling in effect upholds the right of the US to require that Mexico meet the standards of the “dolphin safe” label in its tuna exports to the US. The label was first conceived in 1990, when environmental organizations and tuna companies agreed to a definition of “dolphin safe” for tuna caught without setting nets on or near dolphins. In 1997, the standards were expanded to include the requirement that no dolphins be killed or seriously injured during the tuna catch. The ruling overrides a decision handed down by the WTO in April that gave Mexico the right to impose sanctions on US products worth about US$163.23 million a year in compensation for loses due to US restrictions on imports of Mexican tuna. The amount was only about one-third of the US$472.3 million that Mexico had requested.

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