23 Jan

WTO to investigate EU complaint against Mexico over olive oil duties

GENEVA: The World Trade Organization has begun an investigation into a complaint brought by the European Union that Mexico has charged illegal duties on EU olive oil, officials said Tuesday.

The EU lodged an initial complaint to the Geneva-based trade arbitration body in December, after months of negotiations between Brussels and Mexico failed to resolve the issue.

The first request to establish a dispute settlement panel was blocked by Mexico, but under WTO rules a second request is automatically granted.

Both sides will now try to agree on who is to sit on the three-member panel. If they fail to do so, they can request that WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy appoint the arbitrators.

Mexico argues that its so-called “countervailing duties” are necessary because of European olive oil subsidies.

A WTO investigation can last months or even years before a final judgment, but could eventually result in the authorization of punitive sanctions.

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