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Canada to appeal to WTO on EU seal products ban
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09:15, July 28, 2009

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Canada on Monday announced it is requesting World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations concerning EU's ban on seal products.

The European Union voted earlier on the day to approve a ban on the import of seal products, a move Ottawa says violates the EU's WTO commitments.

The ban will have a drastic impact on the livelihoods of thousands of Canadian sealers, Canadian officials said, stating the ban should contain an exemption for humanely harvested seal products like those in Canada.

"I stated that the government of Canada would launch a WTO challenge should a seal products trade ban not include an acceptable exemption, and today I am following through on that promise," Minister of International Trade Stockwell Day said Monday in a press release.

The ban was approved during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. In a statement, the ministers said the ban was a "response to concerns about the animal welfare aspects of seal hunting practices."

Canada's seal hunt is the largest in the world, with annual exports to the EU at 3.5 million Canadian dollars (about 3.1 million U.S. dollars Many of the EU's 27 member countries charge that seal hunt in Canada is inhumane, citing the methods used such as clubs and rifles.

Canada maintains its seal hunt is humane and adheres to rigorous standards of animal welfare. Sealing is also a vital way of survival for many aboriginal and coastal communities.


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