Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



WTO Establishes Panel to Hear Canada's Challenge of South Korean Import Ban on Beef

On August 31, 2009, the WTO agreed to establish a dispute settlement panel to consider Canada's challenge against South Korea's ongoing import ban against Canadian beef.

The establishment of the panel follows more than six years of efforts on the part of Canada to restore access to South Korea for Canadian beef, which was banned by that country in May 2003 after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in a single Canadian cow. There have been numerous failed attempts by the Canadian government to negotiate an end to the ban.

In 2007, the World Organization for Animal Health categorized Canada as a “controlled risk" country for BSE. That designation has allowed Canada to ship most beef cuts without restrictions to 55 countries, provided specified risks are removed.

The WTO panel will be asked to determine whether South Korea’s measures are consistent with its international trade obligations under the WTO. It normally takes up to nine months from the establishment of a panel for its final report to be released to WTO members. This case may result in a notification of a delay by the panel if the complicated import quarantine issues have not yet been canvassed by a WTO Panel. It can be expected that the complicated food safety aspects of any panel decision would be appealed to the Appellate Body of the WTO before the final resolution is reached.

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