The recently reported Russian prohibition on seal fur imports adds an important element of context for the EU’s dispute with Canada and Norway over its seal products ban. The details of the Russian ban are in this WTO document: http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news11_e/table1_annual_overview11.xls.
(Russia outlawed its domestic seal hunt some years ago). As animal welfare activists have pointed out, the Russian market is of critical importance to the Canadian industry. While Canada has been trying to break into China with seal products, these efforts are being met with serious resistance.
In the meantime, the EU has now begun its public diplomacy on this dispute, publishing the circular
http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2012/january/tradoc_148951.pdf, where the EU indicates its support for opening up the panel hearings to the public and that is written submissions will be posted to the web; Canada and Norway have apparently not yet responded to requests for public hearings and public submissions by high profile spokespeople for PETA, such as Canadian actor Pam Anderson.
While the panel(s) in this case were established almost a year ago, the panelists have not yet been chosen; judged against the gap between establishment and composition in other recent cases, this seems inordinately long. Any theories about what’s going on?