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30 September, 2015

WTO Establishes Panel to Study South Korean Restriction of Japanese Marine Product Imports

A case-specific panel was recently established at the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva to deal with the matter of South Korea's restriction of imports of Japanese marine products, following discussions at a regular meeting on September 28 of the organization’s dispute-settlement body. After panelists are selected, examinations will begin.

South Korea had originally imposed restrictions on the import of Japanese marine products after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants in 2011, and tightened them in 2013.

As it deemed the restrictions as “inconsistent” with WTO agreements, Japan requested South Korea to hold bilateral consultations in June 2015 toward relaxing or lifting them. No prospects for resolution emerged, however, so Japan asked the WTO to establish the panel on August 20.

A panel under the WTO agreement will consider whether the South Korean restriction is consistent with agreements and then render its judgment. If a violation is found, the panel will recommend correction. If either party objects to the panel’s report, it may ask a superior committee to examine the question further.

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