WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick announced today
that the United States asked a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel to review
whether Japan has complied with earlier WTO rulings against its restrictions on
imported U.S. apples. The United States is also seeking authorization to impose
trade sanctions against Japan totaling $143.4 million.
"American apple growers have been blocked from the Japanese market - that’s
wrong. The United States does not believe that Japan has brought its measure
into compliance with WTO agreements," stated Zoellick. "Japan continues to
require various restrictions, including orchard inspection and buffer zones. The
revised restrictions are little changed from the original restrictions found to
be inconsistent by a WTO panel with Japan’s obligations under the SPS Agreement.
We won’t be satisfied until there is a level playing field, and that’s why we
are moving to assert our WTO rights."
In its request seeking authorization to impose trade sanctions against Japan,
the United States proposes to increase tariffs on Japanese products with an
annual trade value of up to $143.4 million, which is the approximate amount of
annual harm to the U.S. economy caused by Japan’s measure on U.S. apples. The
United States may also opt to suspend obligations to Japan under the SPS and
Agriculture Agreements in order to achieve this annual value. Under an agreement
with Japan, the United States would not suspend trade concessions until an
arbitrator has confirmed the level of trade harm suffered by the United
The request for authorization to suspend trade concessions includes a list of
potential product categories from which the United States could draw in
selecting specific products that will be subject to increased duties. At this
time, USTR is not publishing in the Federal Register a list of the specific
products that may be subject to increased duties. However, at a later date USTR
will publish, as appropriate, a Federal Register notice seeking public comment
on a specific list of products.
On December 10, 2003, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) adopted the panel
and Appellate Body reports in the fire blight case which found that Japan’s
restrictions on imported U.S. apples are scientifically unfounded and
inconsistent with WTO SPS obligations. In January 2004, the United States and
Japan met to agree on the reasonable period of time (RPT) to implement the DSB’s
decision. The parties agreed that the RPT would expire on June 30, 2004.
The DSB decision found that Japan’s requirements for three orchard
inspections, 500 meter buffer zones between infected trees and trees with apples
for export to Japan and chlorine treatment requirements are not based on
scientific evidence nor did Japan base its measures on a risk assessment. The
United States successfully argued that mature symptomless apples, the only
apples exported, are not vectors for the fire blight bacteria.
Japan and the United States met on several occasions to discuss Japan’s
implementation of the WTO decision, most recently on June 15. Japan issued a
revision to its measure on June 30, 2004, the date the RPT expired. The United
States does not believe that the revision to the measure brought it into
compliance with Japan’s obligations under the SPS Agreement.