The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization today announced that it has ruled mostly in favor of the United States and Canada in their joint appeal over the European Union's long-standing ban on beef imports treated with growth hormones.
The controversy, which dates to the Eighties, has spawned U.S. and Canadian sanctions of $125 million a year on European products ranging from Roquefort cheese to mustard.
The appeal case originated when the European Union challenged the right of the United States and Canada to continue applying sanctions against the EU.
United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab said today that she welcomed the ruling, and that it meant there was no need for the U.S. to remove the sanctions.
"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," Schwab said.
The EU originally banned beef treated with growth hormones because of fears that such beef might cause cancer. In response, since 1999 the United States and Canada have imposed punitive duties of 100 percent on imports of such European products as Roquefort cheese, pork, cucumbers, tomatoes, truffles and mustard.
Last March, a WTO dispute panel ruled that a new risk assessment by the EU in 2003 had failed to justify the ban, and that the ban therefore still violated international trade rules. However, the same panel also blamed the United States and Canada for deciding to maintain sanctions against EU exports without initiating proper legal proceedings at the WTO. In response to that ruling, the EU than appealed, arguing that its ban on hormone-treated beef was scientifically sound and therefore legal.