Canada May Negotiate Seal Production despite EU’s Final Decision

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

Although the World Trade Organization’s recent unfavorable ruling that upheld the EU’s ban on seal products is final, the decision has still left room for Canada to retaliate against the 28 member states for failing to meet their trade obligations. EU’s ban was appealed to the WTO by Canada and Norway last year, as they called it discriminatory and contrary to international trade rules.

WTO upheld the ban as it said that EU’s use of a “public morality” clause trumped broken rules. According to WTO officials, last week’s ruling on the seal ban was “final,” and added that “Canada has to accept it.” However, the WTO also ruled that the EU’s seal regime should be brought into compliance, opening a window of opportunity for Canada and the sealing associations opposed to the ruling. Consequently, a statement issued by the Seals and Sealing Network (SSN) said that “what the WTO has upheld is that it is possible for a nation to address animal welfare concerns by invoking public morals as a justification.” It also added that “the WTO then further pointed out that the breaking of international trade rules to achieve the objective is not acceptable and greater due diligence than exercised in creation of the seal ban need be applied.”

According to the chair of the SNN, Dion Dakins, the ruling “sends a clear message to the EU to sit down and negotiate with Canada and Norway on a more reasonable approach.” It was added that “even the European public is opposed to trade bans based on moral grounds and they understand the dangerous precedent such bans set for fair and open trade.”

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