Today, the World Trade Organization (WTO) published the definitive report by the Special Panel which reviewed the modifications to “dolphin – safe” tuna labeling in the United States, reiterating the discriminatory nature of those changes which continue to negatively affect the competitiveness of Mexican products by unfairly denying them the “dolphin – safe” label.
The WTO decided in Mexico’s favor, asserting that the changes to the labeling system implemented by the United States are restrictive to trade and do not comply with U.S. goals to inform consumers on the damage that may occur to dolphins during tuna fishing.
With this decision, the WTO again sides with Mexico, demonstrating that the Mexican tuna fishing industry is capable of reporting and achieving a certain level of protection, while other fishing industries which do not provide the same level of certainty are able to obtain the dolphin-safe label. Accordingly, the determination of the Special Panel affirms that the U.S. labeling system discriminated against Mexico and, therefore, violates U.S. agreements under the WTO.
The United States has 60 days to appeal the decision, in which case the final result of this dispute would be made known by the end of 2015. If the United States does not appeal the report or if today’s decision is affirmed in the eventual appeal process, Mexico will have the right to suspend benefits to the United States until the latter eliminates discriminatory aspects of its dolphin – safe labeling system.
The decision of the WTO is another important victory not only for Mexico, but for the environment and all marine species, as well as for consumers who trust in the accuracy of environmental labeling. The decision reinforces the commitment of Mexico to fish for tuna in a sustainable way and offer consumers a product that is traceable from the point of capture to the point of sale in order to verify the level of protection for dolphins.
Mexico will continue defending the interests of Mexican industries and ensure the due compliance of its trading partners to their international commitments.