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WTO Sides with S. Korea in Dispute over Japanese Seafood Import Ban

Write: 2019-04-12 13:30:08Update: 2019-04-12 17:57:53

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: In a surprising turn of events, the World Trade Organization's appellate body, which has the final say in trade disputes, says South Korea's import restrictions on Japanese seafood are reasonable and not discriminatory. It is the first time an initial ruling on a sanitary-related dispute has been overturned.
Choi You Sun reports.

Report: The World Trade Organization's(WTO) appellate body ruled on Thursday that South Korea's import restrictions on Japanese seafood following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster were not unfair and did not fall into the category of arbitrary discrimination.

The decision overturned the WTO dispute panel's ruling last year, which said that while Seoul's import restrictions were justified shortly after the disaster, maintaining them went against the organization's Sanitary and Phytosanitary(SPS) agreement.

Instead of focusing on the levels of contaminants in Japanese food products, the appellate body is believed to have placed emphasis on the potential of Japan's post-disaster environment affecting food safety.

However, it sided with Tokyo on one point, saying that Seoul had not provided enough information to Tokyo in terms of the import ban measures.

The latest ruling was unexpected as it is the first time a decision regarding the SPS agreement was overturned by the appeals body.

The South Korean government welcomed the news and said on Friday that the bans introduced in 2013 on 28 types of Japanese seafood imports from Fukushima and seven other prefectures will remain intact.

Seoul added that it will continue to request safety certificates from Tokyo on an additional 17 nuclides should any traces of radiation be detected in Japanese food imports.

In a statement early on Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed regret over the WTO's decision, vowing to continue demands that Seoul lift its trade restrictions.

Some 50 countries enforced similar import bans against Japan since the 2011 disaster, but South Korea was the only country Japan lodged a formal complaint against with the WTO in 2015.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.

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