WTO panel to hear Japan-Korea import ban dispute

2 October 2015

A dispute panel is now set to hear Japan’s complaint (DS495) against Korea’s import ban and certification and testing requirements on certain imported foods, following a second panel request from Tokyo. 

The panel was established during the latest meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), held on Monday 28 September.  An earlier request had been made in August, which was blocked at the time by Seoul. (See Bridges Weekly, 9 September 2015)

The dispute concerns sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures introduced by Korea following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011. Japan claims in its panel request that the import bans and additional testing and certification requirements introduced by Korea violate global trade rules, citing concerns regarding transparency, discrimination, and the trade restrictiveness of these policies.

Seoul has argued that the measures are justifiable and in line with WTO rules, given the potential risks from radioactive contamination to human, animal, and plant life and health. The 2011 nuclear accident, Korea reportedly said at the DSB meeting, caused extensive environmental contamination, with the leakage of contaminated water still undergoing.

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