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WTO Dispute Settlement Panel Issues Decision

Hon Jim Sutton MP for Aoraki

Minister for Trade Negotiations, Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity

16 March 2005

WTO Dispute Settlement Panel Issues Decision On Ec-Geographical Indications

A WTO dispute settlement panel has ruled that the European Community's system for the protection of geographical indications breaches WTO rules. The case was taken by Australia and the United States. New Zealand participated as a third party in support of their claims.

“This ruling ensures that producers outside of the European Union (including producers in New Zealand) are not unfairly discriminated against in seeking to protect geographical indications in the EU”, said the Minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton. “The European Community has consistently been trying to foist its prescriptive model for regulation of GIs on the rest of the world. This decision has demonstrated that the European Community does not have a model approach on GIs, but rather one which is complex, difficult to use and WTO inconsistent”, said Mr Sutton.

“This ruling once again shows that the existing WTO rules have teeth and serve us well. The Doha Development Round provides the opportunity to go even further in protecting New Zealand’s interests”.

The EC has a right to appeal the ruling, although it is not yet clear whether or not it will do so.

“I am also pleased to point out that this is the second time in as many weeks that the WTO dispute settlement system has ruled favourably in a case in which New Zealand has participated,” the Minister further stated. (The WTO's Appellate Body recently ruled that subsidies provided by the US to its cotton farmers breached WTO rules).

ENDS

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