USTR - United States Requests Establishment of WTO Panel on Turkey’s Restrictions on Imports of U.S. Rice
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

United States Requests Establishment of WTO Panel on Turkey’s Restrictions on Imports of U.S. Rice
02/06/2006

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.

 

Background

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 problem exists.

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 Procedures.

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item: US Letter to WTO Requesting Consultations with Turkey on Rice Imports