Sun, Aug 31, 2008 - Page 11 News List

US free to ‘insist’ WTO hear EU dispute: official


The US is free to “insist” that the WTO hear a dispute over high-technology import duties after the EU blocked its request for WTO arbitration.

After the EU move, “the United States is able to insist that a panel be established at the next DSB [dispute settlements body] meeting,” a senior US Trade Representative (USTR) official told reporters.

The comment came after the WTO said on Friday that the EU had blocked a joint request by the US, Japan and Taiwan for the Geneva-based body to settle the dispute.

The US and the two Asian countries claim that the EU is violating trade rules by imposing duties on imports of certain products such as “cable boxes that can access the Internet, flat-panel computer monitors, and certain computer printers that can also scan, fax and/or copy.”

The EU exercised its right under WTO rules to block the request for the dispute settlements body. If the parties renew their request, it would be automatically adopted at the DSB’s next meeting.

“Once a panel is established, panel members will be selected and the timetable for the panel process will be set. We are consulting with our co-complainants as we move forward,” the official said.

A WTO Information Technology Agreement signed in 1996 prohibits duties on certain high-technology products.

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said earlier this month that “we believe that these duties are inconsistent with the EU’s commitments on these products and that they discourage technological innovation in the IT sector.”

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