WASHINGTON, D.C. - United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that due to recent signs of progress in negotiations with the EU it is delaying the imposition of additional duties on a modified list of EU products in connection with World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement rulings in the EU - Beef Hormones dispute. Under a determination announced on January 15, 2009, the additional duties were to go into effect on April 23, 2009.
"The United States will delay the trade action until May 9, to provide a little more time to negotiate a settlement with the EU," explained Ambassador Kirk. "Commissioner Ashton and I have been working to deal with this difficult problem and I appreciate her commitment to resolving it. The EU has demonstrated seriousness in their efforts to solve this problem, and two additional weeks should be sufficient to establish whether we can address the remaining issues successfully."
The changes announced on January 15, 2009 made additions to and deletions from the list of the products subject to additional duties, changed the EU member states whose products are subject to the duties, and, for one product, increased the level of the additional duties. Under a decision announced on March 12, the effective date for most of the changes announced on January 15 was moved from March 23 to April 23. In order to respect commercial arrangements that had been made in the weeks following January 15, however, USTR permitted products identified for removal from the list to be taken off the list on March 23.
The details of the delay in the trade action are set out in a Federal Register notice that shortly will be posted on USTR's website and sent to the Office of the Federal Register for publication.
In 1988, the EU banned U.S. beef on the grounds that U.S. beef producers made use of certain growth-promoting hormones that are unapproved in the EU. The WTO dispute began in January 1996, shortly after the entry into force of the WTO. In 1998, the WTO found 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 ban into compliance with its WTO obligations, the WTO authorized the United States to take retaliatory trade measures with an annual trade value of $116.8 million. In July 1999, the United States imposed additional duties on a list of EU products in accordance with the WTO authorization. That list remained unchanged until the modifications were announced on January 15, 2009.
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 in October 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.
On November 6, 2008, USTR published a Federal Register notice seeking public comments on possible modifications to the list of products subject to additional duties. Approximately 600 comments were received by the requested due date of December 8, 2008. An interagency committee of trade experts and economists reviewed the public comments and provided recommendations to the USTR with respect to modifications that would result in a more effective action, while taking account of effects on the U.S. economy, including consumers. The USTR accepted the recommendation and announced the modified trade action on January 15, 2009.