Mexico gets WTO authorization to retaliate against U.S. in tuna case

Last week the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) granted authorization for Mexico to apply punitive duties on some imports of U.S. goods in retaliation for damages caused to Mexican trade by U.S. tuna labeling rules.

Mexico had been contesting American tuna labeling rules, which are aimed at protecting dolphins from getting ensnared in fishing nets and killed.

The U.S. allows a “dolphin-safe” label on tuna cans that meet a no-kill standard and has claimed that Mexican fishing methods do not respect the standard.

In late April a WTO arbitrator concluded that Mexico suffered damage from the U.S. rule and could request the DSB to authorize Mexico to impose retaliatory duty on a selection of U.S. goods, to a level which did not exceed US$ 163.23 million annually. Mexico thus requested authorization to suspend concessions to the United States up to the amount determined by the arbitrator.

In last week’s decision the DSB agreed to grant Mexico the authorization to impose retaliatory duties up to the maximum amount.

Mexico now has to determine which U.S. goods will be subject to retaliatory duty, and at which rates.

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