9. The WTO undermines national sovereignty
The WTO dispute settlement systems rulings are based on agreements that all parties
in a dispute have agreed to.
The sanctions are not
imposed by the WTO, but by the country winning the case. The sanctions imposed on the EU
were imposed voluntarily by the elected national government of the United States, within
WTO rules and procedures. The case was not initiated by the WTO (the WTO does not have the
power to do that) but by the US and Canadian governments.
(In fact, the US first
imposed $100 million in annual sanctions against the EU for the beef-hormone ban in 1989,
six years before the WTO came into being.)
The WTO did not say the law should be abolished. The ruling said the ban (not the law)
violated WTO agreements which the EU itself negotiated and signed. The EU had the option
of providing sufficient evidence of health risk to support the ban, or removing the ban.
It chose to supply the evidence, but within the agreed time-limit it was unable to do so
and US sanctions were imposed. The EU still says it will supply the evidence. Meanwhile,
the ban has not been lifted. No one has been forced to do anything.
This is completely false. The agreements include countless provisions allowing governments
to take public interest into account.
The agreements are
also the result of negotiations in which all governments pursued what they saw as the
interests of their public. If their view of public interest changes, they are completely
free to seek to amend the agreements. That has already happened in eight successive trade
rounds under GATT, with the ninth approaching after the Seattle Ministerial Conference.
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