The WTO Shrimp-Turtle Case (United States - Import Prohibition of Certain Shrimp and Shrimp Products)
American Journal of International Law, Vol. 93, p. 507, 1999
10 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2010 Last revised: 4 May 2014
Date Written: November 3, 2010
In its report "United States- Import Prohibition of Certain Shrimp and Shrimp Products,” the WTO Appellate Body attempts to foster a process whereby diverse interests are accounted for when regulations addressing environmental issues affect trans-border trade. In this way, the Appellate Body decision significantly departed from former GATT jurisprudence and, in particular, the former GATT panel decisions in the two tuna-dolphin cases of 1991 and 1994. The Appellate Body decision can be viewed as a response to challenges to WTO legitimacy by powerful constituencies in the United States and Europe which successfully pressured their governmental representatives to seek changes in the application of GATT rules. The shrimp-turtle case involved the application of GATT rules to a trade dispute over production and process methods (known as "ppms") for the trawling of shrimp, which kill endangered sea turtles. As in the earlier tuna-dolphin conflict, while the U.S. lost the legal case, the developing country complainants may be prompted to upgrade their environmental regulations. In the end, foreign shrimpers wishing to export shrimp to the U.S. market will likely be forced to use TEDs.
Keywords: WTO Shrimp-turtle case, trade and environment, legitimacy
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