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USTR Seeks Public Comments on Possible Changes to Product List in EU ; Beef Hormones Dispute

10/30/2008

 

U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab announced today
that USTR is seeking public comment on the possible modification of the list of
European products subject to increased tariffs in connection with World Trade
Organization (WTO) dispute settlement rulings in the EU – Beef Hormones
dispute.  Any such modification could involve the products subject to
increased duties, the level of increased duties, or the EU member States whose
products are subject to the duties.  USTR is particularly interested in
comments addressed to the effects on U.S. small- or medium-size businesses
or on consumers of imposing higher duties on particular
products.   


“The WTO found over 10 years ago that the EU’s ban on
U.S. beef was not supported by
science and was thus inconsistent with WTO rules.  When the EU failed to
bring its measures into compliance with its WTO obligations, the
United
States imposed tariffs on certain imports from
the EU, as authorized by the WTO.  Since that time, we have been trying to
resolve this dispute with the EU without changing the composition of tariffs,”
explained USTR Schwab.  “It is now time to revisit those tariffs to see if
modifications would be appropriate.” 


In 1999, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body authorized the
United
States to impose increased tariffs on EU
products with a total annual trade value of $116.8 million.  On October 16,
2008, the WTO Appellate Body confirmed that the United States
has a continuing right to impose trade measures until the EU – Beef Hormones
dispute is resolved. 


An interagency committee of trade experts and economists
will review the public comments and provide recommendations to the USTR. 
The USTR intends to complete the process and announce any modifications to the
existing tariffs by the end of this year. 


Complete information on the submission of comments is set
forth in a USTR Federal Register notice.  The notice is posted today on the
USTR web site (www.ustr.gov), and will be published shortly in the Federal
Register. 


BACKGROUND


Beef Hormones Dispute


The WTO dispute over the EU ban on beef from animals
administered certain growth-promoting hormones dates back to 1996.  In
1999, after the United States
had successfully challenged the ban in front of a WTO panel and the Appellate
Body, the United
States obtained authorization from the WTO to
suspend concessions and impose additional tariffs on EU products drawn from a
list submitted to the WTO.  The United States exercised this
authorization by raising tariffs on certain European products.


The EU amended its ban in 2003, claiming that the ban now
complied with WTO requirements, and challenged the continued application of
additional tariffs by the United States.   In a
report released on October 16, 2008, the WTO Appellate Body rejected the EU’s
claim and confirmed that the United States has a continuing right
to impose trade measures on EU products.


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