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


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 (, and will be published shortly in the Federal Register. 


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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