U.S., EU rice battle heats up
The Bush administration has notified the World Trade Organization of its intent to withdraw certain tariff concessions on European products because the United States has not been able to reach agreement with the European Union over access to the European rice market.
On Sept. 1, 2004, the EU unilaterally decided to change its rice import system by increasing tariffs on brown rice imports above the rate that it had agreed upon as part of its Uruguay Round obligations.
The Bush administration said the EU’s rice import system limits the access of American rice farmers to the European market, affecting U.S. brown rice exports valued at about $33 million a year.
Under the WTO rules, when a member country makes a change in its tariff obligations, certain trading partners are able to negotiate offsetting benefits.
“We have been trying for months to find a fair resolution that balances the concerns of both sides,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in a Jan. 28 statement. “Since we have not resolved this problem through negotiations, we have to notify the WTO of our intent to exercise our rights to withdraw concessions.”
The list of products the Bush administration says is subject to possible withdrawal of concessions includes yogurt, processed cheese, witloof chicory, brussel sprouts, mandarins, paprika, and saffron, and processed artichokes, truffles, antipasto, non-green olives, sauerkraut and peaches.