US Loses Court Fight to Mexico Over Tuna
WTO's ruling could cost the US millions in trade sanctions
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2017 2:36 PM CDT
A bluefin tuna swims inside farming pens prior to harvest near Ensenada, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Chris Park, File)

(Newser) – The latest source of US-Mexico trouble: tuna. The World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of Mexico to the tune of $163 million in a longtime dispute over the fish. As NPR explains, the dispute centers on "dolphin-safe" labels on cans of tuna adopted by the US in 1990. The US claims that Mexico’s use of large-net fishing boats that chase and target dolphin schools to find tuna do not meet the country’s no-kill standards. But Mexico says the US rules unfairly target the country and do not take into account new practices that have drastically decreased dolphin deaths. Mexico claims losses as high as $472.3 million annually over the labels and filed the case back in 2008, reports Reuters.

The US believes the number is closer to $21.9 million at most, but the WTO estimated it at $163 million, and said Mexico could impose retaliatory restrictions on the US to claw back that amount. The Office of the US Trade Representative says the decision doesn't take into account a new rule enacted in 2016 that expanded the restrictions to all countries, adding that it "dramatically overstates" the financial impact on Mexico. The WTO will next consider the 2016 changes made by the US, and its ruling in July could overturn this week's decision. Meanwhile, the Trump administration said Wednesday that it will attempt to renegotiate NAFTA, making the timing of this decision and trade relations with Mexico all the more sensitive.

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