Product differentiation under the WTO; An analysis of labelling and tariff or tax measures concerning farm animal welfare

This report examines the possibility of giving preferential treatment to imports of meat products that meet improved standards in terms of animal welfare in production. Three specific forms of preferential treatment are considered here as possible measures for increasing levels of animal welfare in meat production in the EU and its exporting partners: labelling of products (either voluntary or compulsory), differentiated import tariffs and differentiated consumer taxes. The likely admissibility of such measures under WTO rules is assessed by means of an analysis of previous decisions by WTO dispute settlement panels. It is concluded that all of the measures analysed have a possibility of being upheld, based on a defence relying on Article XX of the GATT and perhaps also the TBT Agreement. While the incentives offered by labelling could be reinforced with differentiated tariffs or taxes, these financial instruments involve various additional complications. They could best be considered after the possibilities of regulated labelling schemes have been exhausted.

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Report 6.05.11

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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