November 14, 2012 / 4:28 PM / in 5 years

Mexico sees deal soon in US tuna label dispute

WASHINGTON, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Mexico and the United States are close to resolving a decades-old dispute over U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna labeling rules and are getting nearer to a solution in a fight over U.S. country-of-origin labeling rules for meat products, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday.

For 30 years, the tuna dispute has “been one of the most important issues of the trade bilateral relationship, which we have now addressed and are about to solve,” Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said at the Inter-American Dialogue, a foreign policy think tank.

A World Trade Organization appellate panel this year found that U.S. dolphin-safe labeling rules discriminate against Mexico, raising the possibility of sanctions on U.S. goods if the rules were not changed.

The dispute centers on the technique of using dolphins to round up tuna, which the United States says disqualifies some Mexican tuna from being labeled dolphin safe.

Mexico says the methods its companies use to harvest tuna do not harm dolphins and the way the United States defines dolphin-safe tuna unfairly restricts trade.

Sarukhan did not give details on how the dispute would be resolved, but said it was an example of how effectively the two countries have worked together in recent years.

He also said the United States and Mexico were “on the road to a solution” in another spat over U.S. country-of-origin labeling rules, which both Mexico and Canada successfully challenged at the WTO.

There was no immediate confirmation from U.S. trade officials in either the tuna or the meat label case.

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