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European Communities – Trade Description of Sardines: Textualism and its Discontent*

  • Henrik Horn (a1) and Joseph H. H. Weiler (a2)
Abstract

The facts of ECSardines are simple enough. A European Communities (EC) regulation stipulated that the designation Sardines could be used on preserved fish only for the genus Sardina pilchardus. The broad rationale claimed for this measure was to prevent consumer confusion. Allegedly European consumers associated the appellation “Sardines” with the pilchardus genus. Subsequently the Codex Alimentarius Commission set an international standard which effectively would allow other types of fish e.g. the genus Sardinops sagax, to use the word Sardine as part of its packaging designation. Peru, which exports Sardinops to Europe could not, under the Community regulation, use the designation Sardines in any shape or manner even though this prohibition would be contrary to the international standard set by the Codex Commission.

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*

This study discusses the WTO Dispute Settlement dispute European Communities – Trade Descriptions of Sardines (WT/DS231/R, 29 May 2002 and WT/DS231/AB/R, 26 November 2002). We are grateful for helpful discussions with Gene Grossman and Petros C. Mavroidis and the other Reporters in the project, as well as for the many useful comments provided by participants in the ALI Invitational Conference in February 2004.

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1 EC Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (Hormones) – Report of the Appellate Body (WT/DS26/AB/R and T/DS48/AB/R, January 16, 1998).

2 European Communities – Customs Classification of Certain Computer Equipment – Report of the Appellate Body (WT/DS62/AB/R, WT/DS67/AB/R and WT/DS68/AB/R, May 6, 1998).

3 United States – Measures Affecting Imports of Woven Wool Shirts and Blouses from India – Report of the Appellate Body (WT/DS33/AB/R, April 25, 1997).

4 Korea – Measures Affecting Imports of Fresh, Chilled and Frozen Beef – Report of the Appellate Body (WT/DS161/AB/R and WT/DS169/AB/R, November 12, 2000).

* This study discusses the WTO Dispute Settlement dispute European Communities – Trade Descriptions of Sardines (WT/DS231/R, 29 May 2002 and WT/DS231/AB/R, 26 November 2002). We are grateful for helpful discussions with Gene Grossman and Petros C. Mavroidis and the other Reporters in the project, as well as for the many useful comments provided by participants in the ALI Invitational Conference in February 2004.

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World Trade Review
  • ISSN: 1474-7456
  • EISSN: 1475-3138
  • URL: /core/journals/world-trade-review
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