FratiniVergano’s latest issue of Trade Perspectives© is published
The first article addresses the EU’s request for the establishment of a Panel of Experts with the Republic of Korea pursuant to Article 13.15 of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement concerning certain measures that appear to be inconsistent with Korea’s obligations related to multilateral labour standards and agreements under the EU-Korea FTA. This is the first time that the EU is requesting the establishment of a panel in the context of an FTA Chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development, which contains the relevant references to social and labour conventions. The article first background information on the issues put forth by the EU and on the efforts to address them through consultations. The article then details the relevant rules of the EU-Korea FTA and put the dispute into the broader context of dispute settlement mechanisms in trade agreements and the enforcement of commitments under such agreements. The article concludes that the increased focus on the enforcement of trade agreements appears to be a key element of EU trade policy in the coming five years and one that could provide many opportunities to protect commercial interests and better guarantee the full and correct implementation of preferential trade agreements.
The second article addresses the discussions at the meeting of the WTO’s SPS Committee on 18 and 19 July 2019 regarding the EU’s maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides, in particular the MRL for imazalil, which the EU intends to decrease. The article first provides some background information on imazalil, a fungicide typically used in banana production. The article then addresses concerns raised by some WTO Members, such as Colombia and Ecuador, regarding the EU’s hazard-based approach to regulation. The article reviews a statement submitted by a multitude of WTO Members regarding the ‘Implementation of Non-Tariff Barriers on Agricultural Products’ to the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods of the WTO, which also, inter alia, referred to the issue of MRLs. The article concludes that all relevant stakeholders in the EU and in banana producing countries should closely monitor the evolution of the discussions at the WTO and the likely forthcoming adoption of the Commission’s proposal regarding the decrease of the MRL for imazalil in bananas and other foodstuffs.
The third article addresses a recent study by UK researchers that claim that the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) 2013 review of the sweetener aspartame, in the course of its re-evaluation, was seriously flawed and had disregarded studies that may have indicated that the sweetener could be harmful to health. The article also addresses ‘aspartame-free’ claims that are being made on products containing sweeteners other than aspartame, with the implied message that whatever is used instead of aspartame is safer and healthier. The article argues that ‘aspartame-free’ claims can be considered misleading and deceptive, as they appear to be unsubstantiated and misleading generalisations because aspartame is an approved food additive and its consumption is not unhealthy, as scrutinised in EFSA’s November 2013 opinion. Arguably such claims are also ‘self-evident and misleading’, as consumers must not be given the impression that something ‘special’ is advertised when, in fact, all similar foods possess such characteristics, in particular by specifically emphasising the presence or absence of certain ingredients and/or nutrients.