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Notice

WTO Dispute Settlement Proceeding Regarding the U.S. Department of Commerce Final Countervailing Duty Determination Concerning Certain Softwood Lumber From Canada

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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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 August 19, 2002, the United States received a request from the Government of Canada for the establishment of a dispute settlement panel under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (“WTO Agreement”) regarding the U.S. Department of Commerce (“DOC”) final countervailing duty determination concerning certain softwood lumber from Canada. The panel was established on October 1, 2002. Canada alleges that the initiation and conduct of the countervailing duty investigation, the final determination, the provision of expedited and administrative reviews, and related matters are inconsistent with various provisions of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (“SCM Agreement”) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (“GATT 1994”). 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 December 1, 2002 to be assured of timely consideration by USTR.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should be submitted (i) electronically, to FR0048@ustr.gov, Attn: “DS257 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: DS257 Dispute, with a confirmation copy sent electronically to the e-mail address above or by fax to 202-395-3640.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Amber L. Cottle, 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:

Pursuant to section 127(b) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (“URAA”) (19 U.S.C. 3537(b)(1)), USTR is providing notice that, on August 19, 2002, the United States received a request from the Government of Canada for the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel regarding the DOC final countervailing duty determination concerning certain softwood lumber from Canada. The panel was established on October 1, 2002.

Major Issues Raised and Legal Basis of the Complaint

The notice of the DOC final countervailing duty determination concerning certain softwood lumber from Canada was published in the Federal Register on April 2, 2002, and the notice of the DOC amended final determination was published on May 22, 2002. The notices explain the basis for the DOC's final determination that Canada provides countervailable subsidies to the Canadian lumber industry.

In its panel request, Canada describes its claims in the following manner:

1. Initiation of the Investigation

In initiating the Lumber IV investigation, the United States violated Articles 10, 11.4 and 32.1 of the SCM Agreement. Specifically, contrary to Article 11.4, the initiation of the Lumber IV investigation was not based on an objective and meaningful examination and determination of the degree of support for the application by the domestic industry, because the “Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000” (CDSOA), by requiring that a member of the U.S. industry support the application as a condition of receiving payments under the CDSOA, made impossible an objective and meaningful examination of industry support for the application.

2. Commerce's Final Countervailing Duty Determination

In making the final determination, the United States acted inconsistently with Articles 1, 2, 10, 14, 19, 22 and 32 of the SCM Agreement and Article VI of GATT 1994. Specifically:

(a) Commerce violated Articles 10, 19.1, 19.4 and 32.1 of the SCM Agreement and Article VI:3 of GATT 1994 by imposing countervailing duties in respect of practices that are not subsidies because there is no “financial contribution” by government.

Commerce found that Canadian provincial stumpage programs provide goods or services and are, therefore, financial contributions by government under Article 1.1(a) of the SCM Agreement. Commerce erred in this finding. Canadian provincial stumpage programs do not constitute the provision of goods or services within the meaning of Article 1.1(a) of the SCM Agreement and are not “financial contributions” by a government;

(b) Commerce violated Articles 10, 14, 14(d), 19.1 19.4 and 32.1 of the SCM Agreement and Article VI:3 of GATT 1994 by imposing countervailing duties in respect of practices that are not subsidies because there is no “benefit conferred”,

Commerce erred by:

(i) Determining and measuring the adequacy of remuneration for the alleged provision of goods or services in relation to purported prevailing market conditions in a country other than the country of provision,

(ii) Incorrectly assessing and comparing evidence related to those purported market conditions, and

(iii) Rejecting evidence of prevailing market conditions for the alleged good or service in question in the country of provision within the meaning of Article 14(d) of the SCM Agreement;

(c) Commerce violated Articles 10, 19.1, 19.4 and 32.1 of the SCM Agreement and Article VI:3 of GATT 1994 by imposing countervailing duties in instances where no subsidy exists. Commerce erroneously and impermissibly presumed that an alleged subsidy passes through an arm's s-length transaction to a downstream user of an input;

(d) Commerce violated Articles 1.2, 2.1, 2.4, 10, 19.1, 19.4 and 32.1 of the SCM Agreement by imposing countervailing duties where the alleged subsidies are not Start Printed Page 64957“specific” within the meaning of Article 2 of the SCM Agreement.

Commerce erroneously and impermissibly made a finding of “specificity”,

(i) Based solely on the unsupported and incorrect assertion that only three industries use provincial stumpage, and

(ii) Without taking into account the extent of diversification of economic activity within the jurisdiction of the alleged granting authority;

(e) Commerce violated Article 19.4 of the SCM Agreement and Article VI:3 of GATT 1994 by inflating the alleged subsidy rate through the use of impermissible methodologies, including by:

(i) Calculating the alleged stumpage benefit on the basis of the whole softwood log, and then attributing that benefit to only a portion of the products produced from that log,

(ii) Excluding relevant shipments from the denominator such that the numerator and the denominator of the alleged benefit calculation where not congruent,

(iii) Allocating the total alleged stumpage benefit over a sales value that had been demonstrated on the record to be inaccurate, and

(iv) Excluding from the denominator shipments of companies demonstrated to be unsubsidized; and

(f) Commerce violated Articles 10, 12, 22 and 32.1 of the SCM Agreement and Article X:3(a) of GATT 1994 because the investigation was not conducted in accordance with fundamental substantive and procedural requirements. In particular:

(i) Commerce refused to accept or consider relevant evidence offered on a timely basis, contrary to Article 12.1 of the SCM Agreement,

(ii) Commerce gathered and relied upon information not made available to the parties and not verified, contrary to Articles 12.2, 12.3, 12.5 and 12.8 of the SCM Agreement,

(iii) Commerce failed to address significant evidence and arguments in its determination, contrary to Article 22.5 (and Article 22.4 as it relates to Article 22.5) of the SCM Agreement,

(iv) Commerce failed to issue timely decisions and to provide reasonable schedules for questionnaire responses, briefings, and hearings contrary to Articles 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 and 22.5 (and Article 22.4 as it relates to Article 22.5) of the SCM Agreement, and

(v) Commerce improperly applied facts available to cooperative parties, contrary to Article 12.7 of the SCM Agreement.

3. Expedited and Administrative Reviews

(a) In initiating “expedited reviews” with respect to the Lumber IV investigation, the United States has violated Articles 10, 19.3, 19.4 and 32.1 of the SCM Agreement and Article VI:3 of GATT 1994 because:

(i) Commerce has failed to ensure that each exporter requesting an expedited review is granted a review and given an individual countervailing duty rate, and

(ii) Commerce's proposed methodology for calculating company-specific countervailing duty rates fails to properly establish an individual countervailing duty rate for each exporter granted a review.

(b) U.S. law specifically prohibits company-specific administrative reviews in aggregate cases. In conducting the Lumber IV investigation on an aggregate basis, the United States has therefore violated Articles 10, 19.3, 19.4, 21.1, 21.2 and 32.1 of the SCM Agreement and Article VI:3 of GATT 1994 because:

(i) Commerce is prohibited under U.S. law from conducting company-specific administrative reviews in this case except for companies with zero or de minimis rates, and

(ii) A rate obtained following an aggregate administrative review will replace any company-specific rates arrived at through the expedited review process.

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 FR0048@ustr.gov, with “DS257” 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 the 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 submitting person believes that information or advice may qualify as such, the submitting person—

(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, which is located at 1724 F Street, NW., Washington, DC 20508. The public file will include nonconfidential comments received by USTR from the public with respect to the dispute; the U.S. submissions to the panel in the dispute, 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 may be made by calling the USTR Reading Room at (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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Daniel E. Brinza,

Assistant United States Trade Representative for Monitoring and Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. 02-26761 Filed 10-21-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-01-M