WASHINGTON – U.S.
Trade Representative Rob Portman announced today that the United States has
requested a dispute settlement panel in its World Trade Organization (WTO) case
against Turkey’s unfair restrictions on U.S. rice exports.
"This case is about giving U.S. farmers fair access to Turkey’s market.
American rice farmers are being denied access to Turkey’s rice market because of
Turkey’s unfair import restrictions," said Ambassador Portman. "Over the past
three years, including most recently in WTO dispute settlement consultations,
we’ve tried to resolve this issue without resorting to litigation.
Unfortunately, our serious concerns have not been addressed and we must move
forward to seek the establishment of a WTO panel. We still hope that a
negotiated solution can be reached and that Turkey will allow U.S. producers to
compete fairly in the Turkish market."
"American farmers have world-class products, and they are willing and eager
to compete in the global marketplace," said Secretary of Agriculture Mike
Johanns. "This Administration is committed to opening markets around the world
and to fighting aggressively to enforce our trade agreements and see that
American farmers are treated fairly."
With 70 million potential consumers, Turkey’s domestic rice market is
forecast to be worth more than $200 million in 2006. The United States requested
consultations with Turkey on this matter on November 2, 2005, but those
consultations have not resolved the dispute.
U.S. rice exporters face serious market access restrictions resulting from
Turkey’s import licensing system for rice.
Turkey operates tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for rice, which are made effective
periodically. Under the TRQs, the importation of rice is permitted at
preferential tariff levels provided that importers also purchase significant
quantities of domestic rice from the Turkish Grain Board or Turkish producers or
producer associations. The amount of domestic rice that must be purchased, which
in some cases is more than three times the quantity of rice to be imported,
varies according to the type of rice being imported and the source of the
domestic rice. Turkey does not permit the importation of rice at or below the
maximum rate Turkey committed in the WTO to apply without domestic purchase.
Thus, when the tariff-rate quotas are inoperative, such as during the Turkish
rice harvest, no imports are permitted. As a result of these restrictions,
Turkish imports of U.S. rice of all types have declined dramatically over the
past several years.
The U.S. Government has expressed its concerns regarding Turkey’s import
restrictions on rice on several occasions. Turkey has consistently denied that a
By conditioning the issuance of licenses to import at preferential tariff
levels upon the purchase of domestic rice, not permitting imports at or below
the maximum rate Turkey has committed to apply without domestic purchase, and
banning all rice imports during the Turkish rice harvest, Turkey appears to be
acting inconsistently with several WTO agreements, including the Agreement on
Trade-Related Investment Measures, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
1994, the Agreement on Agriculture, and the Agreement on Import Licensing