WTO Body Upholds France's Ban On Asbestos
March 20, 2001
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) appellate body ruled recently that France was justified in banning imports of goods containing white asbestos, rejecting a Canadian bid to have an earlier finding overturned. Environmental groups welcomed the decision by three arbitrators who upheld a landmark verdict issued last July. The dispute settlement panel had found France's ban, in effect since 1997, conformed with WTO rules that permit trade bans if products pose threats to human, animal or plant health. Four scientific experts consulted by the original panel concurred that handling white, or chrysotile, asbestos fibres and chrysotile-cement products constitute a risk as they are highly toxic and cause cancer and other diseases. France was defended in the case by the European Union, which represents the trade interests of its 15 member states.