As globalization enhances and capital and labour continue to find less barriers for its movement, trade relationships strengthens. With this strengthening, it comes uninvited disputes as markets and nations try to protect their domestic businesses and seek maximum profit from international markets through trade tariff imposition. Since there is always an imbalance in the commodities exchanged between nations, their economic status and financial health, there are disputes that are inevitable and shall continue to force the World Trade Organization (WTO) to continue to act as a neutral party for resolving such conflicts.
Thailand’s top three canned tuna export partners are the US, the EC and Canada. The EC had signed comprehensive canned tuna trade agreements with the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), which was executed on ratified on 3rd February 2000. However, as ACP countries enjoyed zero tariff on their canned tuna exports to the EC, Thailand was subjected to 24% import tariff by the EC . This seemed discriminatory, as there was no valid and justifiable reason for the EC to hurt Thailand’s economy which was dependent on tuna exports, especially when ACP countries were not imposed any tariff by the EC. The move of imposing tariff on Thailand’s canned tuna exports was discriminatory and Thailand sought support under WTO guidelines through the negotiation channel.
Thailand utilised the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) prescribed by the WTO guidelines, and this procedure helped Thailand secure its justice. The DSU provides conciliation, mediation and neutral outlook to the dispute, which was sought by Thailand and EC was obliged to come to the table to revert its discriminatory move.