EC-Seal Products: The Tension between Public Morals and International Trade Agreements
The dispute in EC – Seal Products raises fundamental questions about the relationship between publicmorals and international trade. Can WTO members impose trade restrictions based on moral or ethicalconcerns? Under what conditions can these concerns trump existing trade liberalization commitments?The dispute was filed in 2009 by Canada and Norway against the EU, which in the same year had bannedseal products from being imported and placed on its market. According to the EU, the policy wasintroduced in response to European moral outrage at the inhumane killing of seals. The EU seal regimeincluded a series of exceptions. In particular, it allowed imports of seal products hunted by Inuit or otherindigenous communities, as well as imports of seal products processed and re-exported by EU producers.This article discusses the Appellate Body’s ruling in EC – Seal Products and some of the key legal andeconomic issues raised by this dispute.
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