EC-Seal Products: The Tension between Public Morals and International Trade Agreements

28 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2015

See all articles by Paola Conconi

Paola Conconi

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)

Tania Voon

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: October 2015

Abstract

The EC-Seal Products dispute raises fundamental questions about the relationship between public morals and international trade. Can WTO members impose trade restrictions based on moral or ethical concerns? Under what conditions can these concerns trump existing trade liberalization commitments? The dispute was filed in 2009 by Canada and Norway against the EU, which in the same year had banned seal products from being imported and placed on its market. According to the EU, the policy was introduced in response to European moral outrage at the inhumane killing of seals. The EU seal regime included a series of exceptions. In particular, it allowed imports of seal products hunted by Inuit or other indigenous communities, as well as imports of seal products processed and re-exported by EU producers. This article discusses the Appellate Body’s ruling in EC-Seal Products and some of the key legal and economic issues raised by this dispute.

Keywords: WTO trade disputes, public morals, animal welfare

Suggested Citation

Conconi, Paola and Voon, Tania, EC-Seal Products: The Tension between Public Morals and International Trade Agreements (October 2015). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2015/70. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2669578 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2669578

Paola Conconi (Contact Author)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
32 2 650 2345 (Phone)
32 2 650 4475 (Fax)

Tania Voon

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

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