A Nov. 2 front-page story, "Trade Summit Targeted for Protests," gave a misleading account of a 1998 decision by the World Trade Organization concerning U.S. shrimp imports and the protection of endangered sea turtles.

The article asserted that "the WTO found against a U.S. requirement that all shrimp imported into the United States must be caught with fishing nets that do not ensnare sea turtles."

The article did not say that the United States successfully appealed that decision within the WTO system. The WTO appellate body found that the federal law in question is consistent with U.S. obligations under WTO trading rules and that it represents a legitimate measure intended to achieve an important environmental goal.

The appellate body did not criticize the requirement that all shrimp sold in the U.S. market must be harvested in ways that are safe for endangered sea turtles but called for modifications in the way the United States implemented the law. The administration announced that it would make those modifications, because it would be possible to do so without diminishing efforts to protect sea turtles worldwide.

Contrary to The Post's account, the WTO process upheld U.S. environmental law, showing that liberalized trade and good environmental practices can go hand in hand.


Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary

U.S. Department of State