The WTO has reportedly issued a ruling supporting the United States in its decision to impose duties on European imports in response to a ban on beef from animals treated with growth hormones. According to the U.S. trade representative, “The Appellate Body’s report confirms that WTO members that are subject to additional duties for failing to bring themselves into compliance with the WTO’s rulings and recommendations must do more than simply claim compliance in order to obtain relief from such duties.” The ruling ends an EU appeal from a March 2008 ruling by the trade organization finding that the EU failed to justify its ban on these imports and allowing the United States and Canada to impose duties on Roquefort cheese, truffles and chocolates because the EU’s practice violated international trade rules.

The WTO Appellate Body apparently reversed that part of the March ruling which criticized the United States for continuing to impose the tariffs without first filing a complaint with the WTO. The tariffs were originally imposed in 1998 and were kept in place even after the EU changed its hormone law in 2003, because the amendments continued to prohibit some hormones. The appellate body also reportedly reversed a decision that found the EU’s amendments were incompatible with an earlier WTO ruling. According to an EU trade spokesperson, “The panel had no sound basis for questioning the WTO-legality of the new EU hormones directive. These clarifications will strengthen WTO members’ ability to protect citizens.” See Product Liability Law 360, October 16, 2008.

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