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Notice

WTO Dispute Settlement Proceeding 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.

SUMMARY:

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is providing notice that on June 3, 2002, at the request of the United States, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) established a dispute settlement panel under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO to examine measures imposed by Japan restricting the importation of U.S. apples in connection with fire blight or the fire blight disease-causing organism, Erwinia amylovora. The United States alleges that these measures are inconsistent with the obligations of Japan under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, and the Agreement on Agriculture. USTR invites written comments from the public concerning the issues raised in this dispute.

DATES:

Although USTR will accept any comments received during the course of the dispute settlement proceedings, comments should be submitted on or before June 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, Litigation Assistant, Office of Monitoring and Enforcement, 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. Millan, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representatives, 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. USTR is providing notice that on June 3, 2002, at the request of the United States, a WTO dispute settlement panel was established to examine measures imposed by Japan restricting the importation of U.S. apples in connection with fire blight or the fire blight disease-causing organism, Erwinia amylovora. The panel, which will hold its meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, is 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 restrictions on the importation of U.S. apples in connection with fire blight or the fire blight disease-causing organism, Erwinia amylovora. These restrictions include, inter alia, the prohibition of imported apples from U.S. states other than Washington or Oregon; the prohibition of imported apples from orchards in which any fire blight is detected; the prohibition of imported apples from any orchard (whether or not it is free of fire blight) should fire blight be detected within a 500 meter buffer zone surrounding such orchard; the requirement that export orchards be inspected three times yearly (at blossom, fruitlet, and harvest stages) for the presence of fire blight for purposes of applying the above-mentioned prohibitions; a post-harvest surface treatment of exported apples with chlorine; production requirements, such as chlorine treatment of containers for harvesting and chlorine treatment of the packing line; and the post-harvest separation of apples for export to Japan from those apples destined for other destinations.

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, Article 4.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture, and Articles 2.2, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.5, 5.6, 6.1, 6.2, and 7 and paragraphs 5, 6, and 8 of Annex B of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. 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. Start Printed Page 40978Commenters 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 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.

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 the 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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Bruce R. Hirsh,

Acting Assistant United States Trade Representative for Monitoring and Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. 02-15078 Filed 6-13-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-01-M