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Notice

WTO Consultations Regarding Japanese Measures Affecting the Importation of Apples

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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.

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SUMMARY:

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is providing notice that on March 1, 2002, the United States requested consultations with Japan under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO), regarding measures imposed by Japan on the importation of U.S. apples to protect against the introduction of fire blight. 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 April 30, 2002, to be assured of timely consideration by USTR.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should be submitted (i) electronically to japanapples@ustr.gov or (ii) by mail to Sandy McKinzy, Attn: Japan—Measures Affecting the Importation of Apples, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20508, with a confirmation copy sent electronically or by fax to (202) 395-3640.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Juan A. Millán, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC, (202) 395-3581.

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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 submits or 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 (DSU). 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 United States

The United States has requested WTO consultations with Japan regarding its quarantine restrictions on U.S. apples imported into Japan to protect against the introduction of fire blight (Erwinia amylovora). These restrictions include, inter alia, the prohibition of imported apples from orchards in which any fire blight is detected, the requirement that export orchards be inspected three times yearly for the presence of fire blight, the disqualification of any orchard from exporting to Japan should fire blight be detected within a 500 meter buffer zone surrounding such orchard, and a post-harvest treatment of exported apples with chlorine. None of these restrictions is supported by scientific evidence.

The United States contends that Japan's measures are inconsistent with the obligations of Japan under Article XI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, Articles 2.2, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.6, 6.1, 6.2, and 7 and Annex B of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, and Article 14 of the Agreement on Agriculture. Japan's measures also appear to nullify or impair the benefits accruing to the United States directly or indirectly under the cited agreements.

Public Comment: Requirements for Submissions

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning the issues raised in the dispute. Comments must be in English. Commenters should send either one copy by U.S. mail, first class, postage prepaid, to Sandy McKinzy at the address listed above, or transmit a copy electronically to japanapples@ustr.gov. 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.

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 commenter. Confidential business information must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” in a contrasting color ink at the top of each page of each copy. For any document containing business confidential information submitted by electronic transmission, the file name of the business confidential version should begin with the characters “BC”, and the file name of the public version should begin with the characters “P”. The “P” or “BC” should be followed by the name of the commenter. Interested persons who make submission 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.

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: 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 dispute; if a dispute settlement panel is convened, the U.S. submissions to that panel, 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 panel; and, if applicable, the report of the Appellate Body. An appointment to review the public file (Docket WTO/DS-245, Japan—Measures Affecting the Importation of Apples) may be made by calling Brenda Webb, (202) 395-6186. The USTR Reading Room is open to the public from 9:30 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. 02-7736 Filed 3-29-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-01-M