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Notice

WTO Consultations Regarding “United States-Rules of Origin for Textiles and Apparel Products”

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION:

Notice; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) is providing notice that on January 11, 2002, India requested consultations with the United States under the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (“DSU”), the General Agreement Regarding Tariffs and Trade 1994 (“GATT 1994”), and the Agreement on Rules of Origin (“ROO Agreement”) regarding the rules of origin for textiles and apparel products set out in Section 334 of Uruguay Round Agreements Act and Section 405 of the Trade and Development Act of 2000, and implementing legislation. The European Communities (“EC”) and Bangladesh subsequently requested to join the consultations as third parties. India alleges that Section 334 and its modification, Section 405, are inconsistent with certain obligations of the United States under the ROO Agreement. Pursuant to Article 4.3 of the DSU, such consultations are to take place within a period of 30 days from the date of the request, or within a period otherwise mutually agreed between the United States and the requesting parties. Consultations were held on February 7, 2002, and may be followed by subsequent consultations. USTR invites written comments from the public concerning the issues raised in this dispute.

DATES:

Although the USTR will accept any comments received during the course of the dispute settlement proceedings, comments should be submitted on or before March 27, 2002, to be assured of timely consideration by USTR.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should be submitted (i) electronically, to FR0015@ustr.gov, Attn:“US-India Textile ROO Dispute” in the subject line, or (ii) by mail, to Sandy McKinzy, Monitoring and Enforcement Unit, Office of the General Counsel, Room 122, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20508, Attn: India Textile ROO Dispute, with a confirmation copy sent electronically or by fax to 202-395-3640.Start Printed Page 10036

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Melida N. Hodgson, Associate General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC, (202) 395-3852.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Section 127(b) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) (19 U.S.C. 3537(b)(1)) requires that notice and opportunity for comment be provided after the United States receives a request for the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel. Consistent with this obligation, but in an effort to provide additional opportunity for comment, USTR is providing notice that consultations have been requested pursuant to the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding. If such consultations should fail to resolve the matter and a dispute settlement panel is established pursuant to the DSU, such panel, which would hold its meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, would be expected to issue a report on its findings and recommendations within six to nine months after it is established.

Major Issues Raised by the Consultation Request

Section 334 changed certain rules of origin applicable to textile and apparel products to harmonize U.S. practice with that of our trading partners. Section 405 amended Section 334 to resolve certain concerns raised by the EC. The consultation request alleges that Section 334's changes to rules of origin wrongly differentiated between textile and apparel products and industrial products in order to protect U.S. industry from competition. Similarly, India alleges that the changes made in Section 405 to the textile and apparel rules of origin were adopted to achieve specific trade objectives. These changes, India alleges are inconsistent with Article 2(b)-(e) of the ROO Agreement.

Public Comment: Requirements for Submissions

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning the issues raised in the dispute. Persons submitting comments may either send one copy by U.S. mail, first class, postage prepaid, to Sandy McKinzy at the address listed above or transmit a copy electronically to FR0015@ustr.gov, with “India Textile ROO Dispute” in the subject line. For documents sent by U.S. mail, USTR requests that the submitter provide a confirmation copy, either electronically or by fax to 202-395-3640. USTR encourages the submission of documents in Adobe PDF format, as attachments to an electronic mail. Interested persons who make submissions by electronic mail should not provide separate cover letters; information that might appear in a cover letter should be included in the submission itself. Similarly, to the extent possible, any attachments to the submission should be included in the same file as the submission itself, and not as separate files. A person requesting that information contained in a comment submitted by that person be treated as confidential business information must certify that such information is business confidential and would not customarily be released to the public by the submitter. Confidential business information must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” in a contrasting color ink at the top of each page of each copy.

Information or advice contained in a comment submitted, other than business confidential information, may be determined by USTR to be confidential in accordance with section 135(g)(2) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2155(g)(2)). If the submitter believes that information or advice may qualify as such, the submitter—

(1) Must so designate the information or advice;

(2) Must clearly mark the material as “SUBMITTED IN CONFIDENCE” in a contrasting color ink at the top of each page of each copy; and

(3) Is encouraged to provide a non-confidential summary of the information or advice.

Pursuant to section 127(e) of the URAA (19 U.S.C. 3537(e)), USTR will maintain a file on this dispute settlement proceeding, accessible to the public, in the USTR Reading Room: Room 3, First Floor, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 1724 F Street, NW., Washington, DC 20508. The public file will include a listing of any comments received by USTR from the public with respect to the proceeding; the U.S. submissions to the panel in the proceeding, the submissions, or non-confidential summaries of submissions, to the panel received from other participants in the dispute, as well as the report of the dispute settlement panel, and, if applicable, the report of the Appellate Body. An appointment to review the public file (Docket WTO/DS-234, US-India Textile ROO Dispute) may be made by calling Brenda Webb, (202) 395-6186. The USTR Reading Room is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Christine Bliss,

Acting Assistant United States Trade Representative for Monitoring and Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. 02-5137 Filed 3-4-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-01-M