WASHINGTON - United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick today announced the favorable resolution of an agricultural dispute between the United States and Belgium. The issue centered on excess duties collected on shipments of U.S. rice to Belgium in 1997 and 1998.
Last March, the United States had requested a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel to resolve this case, while continuing to work with interested parties to seek a resolution outside of the panel process. On November 19, 2001, Belgium issued a refund to the U.S. company Uncle Ben's for excess duties that it collected on Uncle Ben's rice shipments. The Belgian decision to make payment to Uncle Ben's eliminates the need for a WTO panel review.
"We are extremely pleased that this issue has been favorably resolved. This is another example of the priority this Administration puts on agriculture and trade. We are pleased that Belgium agreed refund the duties in a demonstration of how we can resolve trade disputes to the benefit of U.S. companies and farmers without the need for formal WTO panel findings," Ambassador Zoellick said. "The United States will continue to be vigilant in working to ensure that Americans are treated fairly by our trading partners."