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(Dec 02, 2007) The European Union is the second largest market for seal products originating from Canada. Canada annually exports €12.7 million (about US$18.6 million) worth of seal products to the EU. Only white seal cub furs are prohibited for import. This ban has been in place since the 1980s, following the vocal campaign against the practice by actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot. However, in early 2007, in addition to the European Parliament which has long voiced its strong objections to the inhumane killing of seals for their skins several EU Member States began to adopt a hostile approach towards the trading of seal products. Belgium was the first EU country to prohibit trade in seal pelts, followed by the Netherlands. Italy and Luxembourg have discontinued granting licenses for trade in seal products. Other Members, including Austria, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, are reportedly planning to follow suit soon.

In September 2007, Canada requested consultations with the World Trade Organization (WTO), located in Geneva, to initiate a formal complaint against the EU Members. Canada has a strong interest in the sealing business, since it is an important source of revenue for a number of coastal areas in Canada, including Newfoundland, Labrador, and Quebec. The Canadian Minister of International Trade, Francois Jubinville, stated, "there is no basis from the point of view of science or conservation to justify banning imports of seal products." On the other hand, the EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, stated that the EU intends to defend the actions of its Members before the WTO and that it will explore whether an EU-wide ban is justified. (Canada Starts Trade Dispute with the EU over Seals, EU OBSERVER, Sept. 27, 2007.)

Author: Theresa Papademetriou More by this author
Topic: Commerce More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Canada More about this jurisdiction
 European Union More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 12/02/2007