June 7, 2005


WTO rejects EU bid to restrict Thai and Brazilian salted chicken



EU tariffs on Thai and Brazilian salted, frozen chicken were deemed as "illegal" and "restrictive" under WTO trade rules.  European food processors could gain access to cheaper cuts of Thai and Brazilian salted chicken under a lower rate of duty if the EU complies with the ruling.


The issue arose in 1996 when Thailand and Brazil began exporting salted, frozen chicken meat that could be used directly in manufacturing processed products. The chickens were treated with a minimum salt content of 1.2 percent and fell under a concessionary 15.4 percent tariff rate until mid-2002.


In a bid to restrict imports, the EU parliament decided to reclassify the products as "frozen meat" rather than "salted" products in 2002, subjecting the imports to a 58.9 percent tariff instead of the original 15.4 percent.


The EU argued that imported chicken meat could no longer be considered "salted" if freezing rather than salt, is used for long-term preservation. Thus, the meat should not benefit from the concession for "salted" products. In response, Thailand and Brazil brought the matter to the WTO.


The WTO stated that this was an issue of interpretation, whether the term "salted" describes the physical characteristics of the products or whether that term refers to the purpose for which the products had been salted, as argued by the EC.


In this case, the WTO ruled in favour of Thailand and Brazil.

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