WTO Panel to Hear Canada’s Challenge of South Korean Ban on Beef

(No. 239 -  August 31, 2009 - 11:00 a.m. EDT) The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, today announced that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has established, at Canada’s request, a dispute settlement panel to hear Canada’s challenge of South Korea’s continuing ban on Canadian beef.

“South Korea’s continuing ban is not based on international standards or on science. This is a clear violation of South Korea’s WTO obligations,” said Minister Day. “This request by Canada demonstrates our ongoing commitment to resolving this issue and defending the interests of Canadian producers.”

The establishment of the panel follows more than six years of efforts on the part of Canada to restore access to South Korea for Canadian beef, which was banned by that country in May 2003 after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in a Canadian cow.

“Canadian producers know that our government will always stand up for our safe, high-quality Canadian beef on the international stage,” said Minister Ritz. “The international scientific community also recognizes that Canadian beef is safe, and I’m confident that the WTO dispute panel will rule in our favour.”

The WTO panel will be asked to determine whether South Korea's continuing ban on Canadian beef is consistent with its international trade obligations under the WTO Agreement.

The panel is expected to issue its report within the next nine months.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-6186

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000

Meagan Murdoch
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
613-759-1059

Media Relations Office
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
613-759-7972
1-866-345-7972

Backgrounder

WTO Establishes Panel to Hear Canada’s Challenge of South Korean Ban on Beef

On August 31, 2009, the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) established, at Canada’s request, a dispute settlement panel to hear Canada’s challenge of South Korea’s continuing ban on Canadian beef.

The establishment of the panel follows more than six years of efforts on the part of Canada to restore access to South Korea for Canadian beef, which was banned by that country in May 2003 after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in a Canadian cow.

In efforts to resolve this issue over the years, Canada has held numerous technical discussions with South Korea and has provided scientific evidence that more than justifies full resumption of trade.

Canadian ministers, ambassadors, senior officials and technical experts have also made numerous representations to South Korean authorities, including a visit in March 2009 by the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board. Despite these efforts, Canada and South Korea have been unable to resolve the issue.

As a result, on April 9, the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, announced that the Government of Canada was requesting WTO consultations with South Korea.

Regrettably, the consultations held with South Korea in May 2009 did not lead to a resolution of the issue. Consequently, Canada presented its first request for the establishment of a dispute settlement panel at the meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body on July 20, 2009. As expected, South Korea blocked the establishment of the panel at that meeting. As a result, Canada presented its second request at the Dispute Settlement Body meeting held on August 31, 2009. According to WTO rules, a member cannot block the establishment of a panel a second time.

The WTO panel will be asked to determine whether South Korea’s measures are consistent with its international trade obligations under the WTO.

It normally takes up to nine months from the establishment of a panel for its final report to be released to WTO members.

Further information on the WTO dispute settlement process can be obtained from the WTO website.