The European Commission (EC) is currently challenging Brazil’s ban on the importation of retreaded tires at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The EC complains that Brazil’s ban is disguised protectionism that violates several GATT disciplines. A WTO Panel was established on 20 January 2006 to examine the case.1 Brazil justifies its import restrictions on the basis of environmental and human health concerns.
Brazil argues that tires contain highly combustible and polluting materials, and that tire incineration releases toxic gases and contaminates Brazil’s soil, water, and air. The accumulation of tires in its territory also results in mosquito propagation because mosquitoes use tires for their breeding ground, which in turn increases the transmission of serious diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, and malaria. Because Brazil already has a large amount of tire waste in its territory and considerable difficulties dealing with this waste, additional tire waste resulting from the import of retreaded tires would aggravate the environmental and public health risks associated to tire disposal.