EU seal pelts import ban dispute goes to WTO court

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 25, 2011 12:35 PM
EU seal pelts import ban dispute goes to WTO court

GENEVA (Reuters) - Seal pelt exporter Canada won the right Friday to have its grievance against a European Union import ban heard through the World Trade Organization's (WTO) court system.

The issue now goes before a panel of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body, a WTO official said. A panel can take up to nine months to publicly release its findings.

The European Union closed its borders to seal products last year when an EU court allowed the ban to proceed despite Canada's objections.

Exports of seal pelts and other seal products from Canada to the EU are worth only a few million dollars, but Canada is keen to preserve the livelihoods of people in coastal and northern communities who depend on the annual seal harvest.

The EU says its law banning seal product imports respects its international obligations while responding to the concerns expressed by EU citizens in respect of seal products from hunts which involve shooting seals and clubbing them to death.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Laura MacInnis)