EU Hails WTO Victory Over Canada, Norway on Seal Products

The European Union hailed a victory over Canada and Norway at the World Trade Organization that lets the EU continue to ban imports of seal products on animal-welfare grounds.

The WTO’s appellate body yesterday upheld the EU’s 2009 prohibition targeting products derived from seals that are killed and skinned in ways that cause pain and suffering. The trade curbs “are necessary to protect public morals,” according to the verdict.

“It upholds the ban imposed in reaction to genuine concerns of EU citizens,” the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s trade authority in Brussels, said in a statement on its website after the ruling. Seals are hunted for their pelts, blubber and meat.

The WTO appellate body criticized an exemption in the EU ban for seal products sold by Inuits and other indigenous peoples, saying the provision is discriminatory.

In its statement, the commission said it would “review the findings on these exceptions to the ban and consider options for implementation.”

The verdict by the WTO appellate body largely confirmed a Nov. 25, 2013, ruling by a panel of the Geneva-based global trade arbiter. Canada and Norway appealed the November ruling.

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