Requests by Canada and US for WTO consultations on EU biotech approval and marketing rules alleging, among other things, nullification or impairment of trade benefits to Canada

May 22, 2003

Geneva, 21 May 2003

European Communities - measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products. Request for Consultations by Canada. Document WT/DS292/1 G/L/628 G/SPS/GEN/398 G/AG/GEN/61 G/TBT/D/29 20 May 2003 (03-05). Full text [WTO links may need to be tried twice before a document is displayed]

The following communication, dated 13 May 2003, from the Permanent Mission of Canada to the Permanent Delegation of European Commission and to the Chairman of the Dispute Settlement Body, is circulated in accordance with Article 4.4 of the DSU.

The Government of Canada hereby requests consultations with the European Communities ("EC") pursuant to Article 4 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, Article XXII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 ("GATT 1994"), Article 11 of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures ("SPS Agreement"), Article 19 of the Agreement on Agriculture, and Article 14 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade ("TBT Agreement"), concerning measures affecting the approval and marketing of products that contain, consist of, or are produced from, genetically modified organisms ("GM products").

As a result of measures taken by EC Member States, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden, since 1998, the EC has maintained a de facto moratorium on the approval of GM products. The moratorium prevents GM products from accessing or proceeding through the EC's approvals process.1 As a consequence of the moratorium, Canadian GM products have been blocked at various stages of the EC's approval process.

In addition, some EC Member States, including Austria, France, Greece, and Italy have prohibited the importation and marketing of GM products despite those products having been approved by the EC for importation and marketing.

These measures appear to be inconsistent with the SPS Agreement, the TBT Agreement, the GATT 1994, and the Agreement on Agriculture. The provisions of these Agreements with which the measures appear to be inconsistent include the following:
- SPS Agreement: Articles 2.2, 2.3, 5.1, 5.5, 5.6, 7, 8 and Annexes B and C;
- TBT Agreement: Articles 2.1, 2.2, 2.8, 5.1 and 5.2;
- GATT 1994: Articles I:1, III:4, X:1 and XI:1;
- Agreement on Agriculture: Article 4.2.

These violations appear to nullify or impair the benefits accruing to Canada under these Agreements. Moreover, these measures appear to nullify and impair the benefits accruing to Canada in the sense of Article XXIII:1(b) of the GATT 1994.

Canada looks forward to receiving the reply of the EC to this request and welcomes any suggestions that it may wish to make concerning dates on which the consultations could take place.

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European Communities - measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products. Request for Consultations by the United States. Document WT/DS291/1 G/L/6 G/SPS/GEN/397 G/AG/GEN/60 G/TBT/D/28 20 May 2003 (03-2677). Full text

The following communication, dated 13 May 2003, from the Permanent Mission of the United States to the Permanent Delegation of the European Commission and to the Chairman of the Dispute Settlement Body, is circulated in accordance with Article 4.4 of the DSU.

My authorities have instructed me to request consultations with the European Communities ("EC") pursuant to Article 4 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes ("DSU"), Article 11 of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures ("SPS Agreement"), Article 19 of the Agreement on Agriculture ("Agriculture Agreement"), Article 14 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade ("TBT Agreement") and Article XXII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 ("GATT 1994") with regard to certain measures taken by the EC and its member States affecting products of biotechnology ("biotech products").

Since October 1998, the EC has applied a moratorium on the approval of biotech products. The EC has suspended consideration of applications for, or granting of, approval of biotech products under the EC approval system. A number of applications for placing biotech products on the market have been blocked in the approval process under EC legislation1 and have never been considered for final approval. The approvals moratorium has restricted imports of agricultural and food products from the United States.

Moreover, the member States maintain a number of national marketing and import bans on biotech products even though those products have already been approved by the EC for import and marketing in the EC. The national marketing and import bans have restricted imports of agricultural and food products from the United States.

The measures affecting biotech products in the EC include:
(1) the suspension by the EC of consideration of applications for, or granting of, approval of biotech products;
(2) the failure by the EC to consider for approval applications for the biotech products mentioned in Annexes IA and IB to this request; and
(3) national marketing and import bans maintained by member States, as described in Annex II to this request.

These measures appear to be inconsistent with the SPS Agreement, the GATT 1994, the Agriculture Agreement and the TBT Agreement, including but not limited to the following provisions:
(1) SPS Agreement, Articles 2, 5, 7 and 8, and Annexes B and C;
(2) GATT 1994, Articles I, III, X and XI;
(3) Agriculture Agreement, Article 4; and
(4) TBT Agreement, Articles 2 and 5.

We look forward to receiving your reply to this request and to fixing a mutually convenient date for consultations.

ANNEX IA: NOTIFICATIONS UNDER DIRECTIVE 2001/18 (90/220)...

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