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This article aims to examine the legality of trade measures addressing environmental conditions of production (PPMs) in the context of non-discrimination provisions under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)  and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement).  It shows that the notion of de facto discrimination is still a sensitive subject in the analysis of origin-neutral measures, including those based on environmental PPMs. Much of the discussion regarding PPMs focuses on the issue of ‘like products’. The interpretation of ‘likeness’ has also served to classify PPMs into the two categories of product related and non-product related. Such distinction rests on how the PPM affects the final product. However, it is important to analyse to what extent these measures can accord less favourable treatment to like products. The author argues that this requires a competition analysis. This article also elucidates how depending upon the applicable law (the TBT Agreement or the GATT) PPMs are likely to face different legal challenges, particularly in terms of less favourable treatment. The author also assesses the possibility of transposing concepts such as ‘legitimate regulatory distinctions’ stemming from the TBT jurisprudence into GATT cases involving PPMs, and whether there will be an additional ‘test’ for PPMs characterised as TBT measures. This article is based on an extensive literature review and doctrinal legal research.

María Alejandra Calle Saldarriaga, Universidad Eafit

PhD in Law (University College Cork, National University of Ireland); master in International Economic Law and Policy (Ielpo-LLM, Universidad de Barcelona) and master in Administration Sciences (MSc, Universidad Eafit). Associate Professor of International Business, Universidad Eafit (Colombia)

Calle Saldarriaga, M. A. (2018). Sustainable Production and Trade Discrimination: An Analysis of the WTO Jurisprudence. ACDI - Anuario Colombiano De Derecho Internacional, 11.


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Vranes, Erich, Trade and the environment: fundamental issues in international law, wto law and legal theory, Oxford University Press, New York, 2009.

Book chapters

Appleton, Arthur, “The agreement on technical barriers to trade”, in Appleton, Arthur E., Macrory, Patrick F. J. & Plummer, Michael G.

(eds.), The World Trade Organization: legal, economic and political analysis, Springer, New York, 2005, pp. 371-409.

Egelund Olsen, Birgitte, “Gaining intergovernamental acceptance: legal rules protecting trade”, in Milne, Janet E. & Andersen, Mikael Skow (eds), Handbook of research on environmental taxation, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, 2012, pp. 192-210.

Read, Robert, “Process and production methods and the regulation of international trade”, in Perdikis, Nicholas & Read, Robert (eds.), The WTO and the regulation of international trade: recent trade disputes between the European Union and the United States, Edward Elgar Publisher Limited, Cheltenham, 2005, pp. 239-266.

Tietje, Christian, “Process-related measures and global environmental governance”, in Winter, Gerd (ed.), Multilevel governance of global environmental change: perspectives from sciencie, sociology and the law, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2006, pp. 254-274.

Vranes, Eric, “Climate labelling and the wto: the 2010 eu ecolabelling programme as a test case under wto law”, in Herrmann, Christoph & Terhechte, Jörg Philipp (eds.), European yearbook of international economic law 2011, Berlin-Heidelberg, Springer, 2011, pp. 205-237.


Benoit, Charles, “Picking tariff winners: non-product related ppms and dsb interpretations of ‘unconditionally’ within article I:1”, Georgetown Journal of International Law, 2011, 42, (2), pp. 1-24.

Charnovitz, Steve, “The law of environmental ‘ppms’ in the wto: debunking the myth of illegality”, Yale Journal of International Law, 2002, 27, (1), pp. 59-110.

Howse, Robert & Langille, Joanna, “Permitting pluralism: the seal products dispute and why the wto should accept trade restrictions justified by noninstrumental moral values”, Yale Journal of International Law, 2012, 37, (2), pp. 368-432.

Howse, Robert & Levy, Philip I., “The tbt panels: us-Cloves, us-Tuna, us-cool”, World Trade Review, 2013, 12, (2), pp. 327-375.

Howse, Robert & Regan, Donald, “The product/process distinction-an illusory basis for disciplining ‘unilateralism’ in trade policy”, European Journal of International Law, 2000, 11, (2), pp. 249-289.

Hudec, Robert E., “gatt/wto constraints on national regulation: requiem for an aim and effects test”, The International Lawyer, 1998, 32, (3), pp. 619-649.

Marceau, Gabrielle, “The new tbt jurisprudence in us-Clove cigarettes, wto us-Tuna II, and us-cool”, Asian Journal of wto and International Health Law and Policy, 2013, 8, (1), pp. 1-39.

Mavroidis, Petros C., “Driftin’ too far from shore. Why the test for compliance with the tbt agreement developed by the wto appellate body is wrong, and what should the ab have done instead”, World Trade Review, 2013, 12, (3), pp. 509-531.

Nielsen, Laura, & Calle, María Alejandra, “Systemic implications of the eu-Seal products case”, Asian Journal of wto & International Health Law and Policy, 2013, 8, (1), pp. 41-75.

Pauwelyn, Joost H. B., “‘Rien ne va plus? Distinguishing domestic regulation from market access in gatt and gats”, World Trade Review, 2005, 4, (2), pp. 131-170.

Shaffer, Gregory, “The wto Tuna-Dolphin II case: United States-Measures concerning the importation, marketing and sale of tuna and tuna products”, The American Journal of International Law, 2013, 107, (1), pp. 192-199.

Van den Bossche, Peter, Schrijver, Nico & Faber, Gerrit, “Unilateral measures addressing non-trade concerns. A study on wto consistency, relevance of other international agreements, economic effectiveness and impact on developing countries of measures concerning non-product-related processes and production methods”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, 2007, (1).

Other documents

Cho, Sungjoon, “Let’s put the ab’s new article III:4 test to the test. Reply by Sungjoon Cho”, International Economic Law and Policy Blog, 2014, at, accessed on June 3, 2014.

Choi, Won-Mog, “How more ‘likeness’ in addressing technical regulations?”, Society of International Economic Law, 2012, 3rd Biennial Global Conference, pp. 1-29.

Ehring, Lothar, “De facto discrimination in WTO law: national and mostfavoured-nation treatment —or equal treatment—”, The Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice, 2001, p. 1.

Howse, Robert, Langille, Joanna & Sykes, Katie, “Written submission of non-party Amici Curiae European Communities - Measures prohibiting the importation and marketing of seal products (WT/ DS400, WT/DS401, WT/DS369)”, World Trade Organization, 2013.

Hudec, Robert E., “‘Like product’: the differences in meaning in GATT articles I and III”,, 2000, accessed on June 10, 2013.

Lester, Simon, “Discrimination in the seal products dispute: the role of categories”, International Economic Law and Policy Blog, 2013, at http://, accessed on June 10, 2013.

Lester, Simon, “How I am thinking about the discrimination issues in the seal products dispute”, International Economic Law and Policy Blog, 2013, at how-i-am-thinking-about-the-seal-products-dispute.html, accessed on June 10, 2013.

Lester, Simon, “What is discrimination?”, International Economic Law and Policy Blog, 2012, at what-is-discrimination.html, accessed on June 10, 2013.

OECD, “Processes and production methods (PPMs): conceptual framework and considerations on the use of ppm-based trade measures”, 1997.

Pauwelyn, Joost, “Tuna: the end of the ppm distinction? The rise of international standards?”, International Economic Law and Policy Blog, 2012, at, accessed on June 10, 2013.

Qin, Julia, “Should there be a single non-discrimination obligation for trade in goods? Julia Qin reply to liberality”, International Economic Law and Policy Blog, 2014, at, accessed on May 30, 2014.

WTO reports

GATT Panel Report, Japan-Trade in semi-conductors, L/6309, adopted 4 May 1988, bisd 35S/116.

GATT Panel Report, United States-Restrictions on imports of tuna, DS21/R, DS21/R, 3 September 1991, unadopted, bisd 39S/155.

GATT Panel Report, United States-Restrictions on imports of tuna, DS29/R, 16 June 1994, unadopted.

GATT Working Party Report on Border Tax Adjustments, GATT BISD 18S/97, December 2, 1970.

WTO Appellate Body Report, Brazil-Measures Affecting imports of retreaded tyres, WT/DS332/AB/R, adopted 17 December 2007.

WTO Appellate Body Report, Canada-Certain measures affecting the automotive industry, WT/DS139/AB/R, WT/DS142/AB/R, adopted 19 June 2000, DSR 2000:VI, 2985.

WTO Appellate Body Report, European Communities-Measures affecting asbestos and asbestos-containing products, WT/DS135/AB/R, adopted 5 April 2001, DSR 2001:VII, 3243.

WTO Appellate Body Report, Japan-Taxes on alcoholic beverages, WT/DS8/ AB/R, WT/DS10/AB/R, WT/DS11/AB/R, adopted 1º November 1996, DSR 1996:I, 9722.

WTO Appellate Body Report, Korea-Measures affecting imports of fresh, chilled and frozen beef, WT/DS161/AB/R, WT/DS169/AB/R, adopted 10 January 2001, DSR 2001:I, 5.

WTO Appellate Body Report, United States-Certain country of origin labelling (cool) requirements, WT/DS384/AB/R/WT/DS386/AB/R, adopted 23 July 2012.

WTO Appellate Body Report, United States-Import prohibition of certain shrimp and shrimp products, WT/DS58/AB/R, adopted 6 November 1998, DSR 1998:VII, 2755.

WTO Appellate Body Report, United States-Measures affecting the production and sale of clove cigarettes, WT/DS406, AB/R, adopted 4 April 2012.

WTO Appellate Body Report, United States-Measures concerning the importation, marketing and sale of tuna and tuna products, WT/DS381/AB/R, adopted 13 June 2012. WTO Appellate Body Report. us-Tuna II (Mexico)-Measures concerning the importation, marketing and sale of tuna and tuna products, WT/DS381/ AB/R, adopted 13 June 2012. wto Appellate Body Reports, European Communities-Measures prohibiting the importation and marketing of seal products, WT/DS400, WT/DS401 and Add.1, circulated on 22 May 2014. wto Panel Report, Colombia-Indicative prices and restrictions on ports of entry, WT/DS366/R and Corr.1, adopted 20 May 2009, dsr 2009:VI, 2535. wto Panel Report, India-Measures affecting the automotive sector, WT/DS146/R, WT/DS175/R and Corr.1, adopted 5 April 2002, dsr 2002:V, 1827.

WTO Panel Report, India-Quantitative restrictions on imports of agricultural, textile and industrial products, WT/DS90/R, adopted 22 September 1999. wto Panel Report, Turkey-Restrictions on imports of textile and clothing products, WT/DS34/R, adopted 19 November 1999, as modified by Appellate Body Report WT/DS34/AB/R, dsr 1999:VI, 2363.


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