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Rule

Establishment of a Petition Process To Review Eligibility of Countries for the Benefits of the Andean Trade Preference Act, as Amended by the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act

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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:

Interim rule with request for comments.

SUMMARY:

This rule, on an interim final and emergency basis, provides for the establishment of a petition process to review the eligibility of countries for the benefits of the Andean Trade Preference Act, as amended by the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act.

ADDRESSES:

Submit written comments to Bennett M. Harman, Office of the Americas, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Room 523, Washington DC 20508.

DATES:

Interim rule effective February 4, 2003. Comments must be received on or before April 7, 2003.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Bennett M. Harman, Office of the Americas, Office of the United States Trade Representative. The telephone number is (202) 395-5190.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Signed into law on August 6, 2002, the Trade Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 107-210) contains, in title XXXI, provisions for enhanced trade benefits for eligible Andean countries. Titled the “Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act” (ATPDEA), title XXXI renews and amends the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) (19 U.S.C. 3201, et seq.). Section 3103(d) of the ATPDEA requires the President to promulgate regulations regarding the review of eligibility of countries for benefits of the ATPA, consistent with section 203(e) of the ATPA, amended by the ATPDEA, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the Trade Act of 2002. This authority was delegated to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) pursuant to Executive Order 13277 on November 19, 2002.

Section 203(e) of the ATPA, as amended, gives the President the authority to withdraw or suspend the designation of any ATPA or ATPDEA beneficiary country, or withdraw, suspend, or limit the application of preferential treatment under the ATPA, as amended by the ATPDEA, to any article of any such country, if the President determines that, as a result of Start Printed Page 5543changed circumstances, the country is not meeting the respective eligibility criteria of the ATPA and ATPDEA. Section 203(e) also establishes certain procedural guidelines for taking any of the actions described above. Presidential Proclamation 7616 of October 31, 2002, delegated to the USTR the functions of the President under section 203(e)(2)(A) of the ATPA with respect to publishing notice of an action he proposes to take under section 203(e).

In accordance with section 3103(d)(2) of the ATPDEA, the interim rule is similar to the regulations governing the annual review used to modify the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, which is authorized by title V of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2461, et seq.), as amended. The interim rule establishes an annual review that allows for public input, and includes procedures for requesting the withdrawal, suspension, or limitation of preferential duty treatment under the ATPA, as amended, and for reviewing such requests and implementing granted requests.

Emergency Action

This rulemaking is necessary on an emergency basis to meet the statutory deadline. Under these circumstances, USTR has determined that prior notice and opportunity for public comment are contrary to the public interest and that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553 for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Comments

Before adopting this interim regulation as a final rule, consideration will be given to any written comments that are timely submitted to USTR. Each person submitting a comment should include his or her name and address, and give reasons for any recommendation. After the comment period closes, USTR will publish in the Federal Register a final rule on this subject, together with a discussion of comments received and any amendments made to the interim rule as a result of the comments.

In order to facilitate prompt consideration of submissions, USTR strongly urges and prefers electronic e-mail submissions in response to this notice. The e-mail address is FR0065@ustr.gov. It is strongly recommended that comments submitted by mail or express delivery service to the address for Mr. Harman listed above also be sent by e-mail. Persons making submissions by e-mail should use the following subject line: “ATPA Petition Process.” Documents should be submitted as either WordPerfect, MSWord, or text (.TXT) files. Supporting documentation submitted as spreadsheets are acceptable as Quattro Pro or Excel. For any document containing business confidential information submitted electronically, the file name of the business confidential versions 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 submitter. Persons who make submissions by e-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. Persons submitting written comments by mail or express delivery service should provide 20 copies. All submissions should be in English.

Written comments will be placed in a file open to public inspection pursuant to 15 CFR 2003.5, except confidential business information exempt from public inspection in accordance with 15 CFR 2003.6. Confidential business information submitted in accordance with 15 CFR 2003.6 must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” at the top of each page, including any cover letter or cover page, and must be accompanied by a nonconfidential summary of the confidential information. All public documents and nonconfidential summaries shall be available for public inspection in the USTR Reading Room. The USTR Reading Room is open to the public, by appointment only, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. An appointment to review the file may be made by calling (202) 395-6186.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act and Executive Order 12866

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required under sections 603 or 604 because USTR is not publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This interim rule is significant under Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993, and has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

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List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 2016

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For the reasons set out in the “Supplementary Information” section of this notice, 15 CFR is amended by adding the following new part 2016 to read as follows:

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PART 2016—ESTABLISHMENT OF A PETITION PROCESS TO REVIEW ELIGIBILITY OF COUNTRIES FOR THE BENEFITS OF THE ANDEAN TRADE PREFERENCE ACT (ATPA), AS AMENDED BY THE ANDEAN TRADE PROMOTION AND DRUG ERADICATION ACT (ATPDEA)

2016.0
Requests for reviews.
2016.1
Action following receipt of petitions.
2016.2
Timetable for reviews.
2016.3
Publication regarding requests.
2016.4
Information open to public inspection.
2016.5
Information exempt from public inspection.
Start Authority

Authority: 19 U.S.C. 3201, et seq.; Sec. 3103(d), Pub. L. 107-210, 116 Stat. 933 E.O. 13277, 67 FR 70303.

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Requests for reviews.

(a) Any person may submit a request (hereinafter “petition”) that the designation of a country as an Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) beneficiary country be withdrawn or suspended, or the application of preferential treatment under the ATPA to any article of any ATPA beneficiary country be withdrawn, suspended, or limited. Such petitions must specify the name of the person or the group requesting the review. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) suggests that, in addition, such petitions identify the ATPA beneficiary country that would be subject to the review; if the petition is requesting that the preferential treatment of an article or articles be withdrawn, suspended, or limited, identify such article or articles with particularity and explain why such article or articles were selected; indicate the specific section 203(e) or (d) (19 U.S.C. 3202(c), (d)) eligibility criterion or criteria that the petitioner believes warrants review; and include all available supporting information. The Andean Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) may also request other information. If the subject matter of the petition was reviewed pursuant to a previous petition, the Andean Subcommittee would be interested in any new information related to the issue provided by the petitioner.

(b) Any party may submit a petition that the designation of a country as an Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) beneficiary Start Printed Page 5544country be withdrawn or suspended, or the application of preferential treatment to any article of any ATPDEA beneficiary country under section 204(b)(1), (3), or (4) (19 U.S.C. 3202(b)(1), (3) or (4)) be withdrawn, suspended, or limited. Such petitions must specify the name of the person or the group requesting the review. USTR suggests that, in addition, such petitions: Identify the ATPDEA beneficiary country that would be subject to the review; if the petition is requesting that the preferential treatment of an article or articles be withdrawn, suspended, or limited, identify such article or articles with particularity and explain why such article or articles were selected; indicate the specific section 204(b)(6)(B) (19 U.S.C. 3203(b)(6)(B)) eligibility criterion or criteria that the petitioner believes warrants review; and include all available supporting information. The Andean Subcommittee may also request other information. If the subject matter of the petition was reviewed pursuant to a previous petition, the Andean Subcommittee would be interested in any new information related to the issue provided by the petitioner.

(c) All petitions and other submissions should be submitted in accordance with the schedule (see § 2016.2) and requirements for submission that will be published annually in the Federal Register in advance of each review. Foreign governments may make submissions in the form of diplomatic correspondence and should observe the deadlines for each annual review published in the Federal Register.

(d) The TPSC may at any time, on its own motion, initiate a review to determine whether the designation of a country as an ATPA beneficiary country should be withdrawn or suspended; the application of preferential treatment under the ATPA to any article of any ATPA beneficiary country should be withdrawn, suspended, or limited; the designation of a country as an ATPDEA beneficiary country should be withdrawn or suspended; or the application of preferential treatment to any article of any ATPDEA beneficiary country under section 204(b)(1), (3), or (4) (19 U.S.C. 3202(b)(1), (3), or (4)) should be withdrawn, suspended, or limited.

(e) Petitions requesting the actions described in paragraph (a) or (b) of this section that indicate the existence of exceptional circumstances warranting an immediate review may be considered outside of the schedule for the annual review announced in the Federal Register. Requests for such urgent consideration should contain a statement of reasons indicating why an expedited review is warranted.

Action following receipt of petitions.

(a) USTR shall publish in the Federal Register a list of petitions filed in response to the announcement of the annual review, including the subject matter of the request and, where appropriate, the description of the article or articles covered by the request.

(b) Thereafter, the Andean Subcommittee shall conduct a preliminary review of the petitions, and shall submit the results of its preliminary review to the TPSC. The TPSC shall review the work of the Andean Subcommittee and shall conduct further review as necessary. The TPSC shall prepare recommendations for the USTR on any proposed action to modify the ATPA. The Chairman of the TPSC shall report the results of the TPSC's review to the USTR, who may convene the Trade Policy Review Group (TPRG), or refer the matter to the National Security Council (NSC) committee process for further review of recommendations and decisions as necessary.

(c) The USTR, after receiving the advice of the TPSC, TPRG or the NSC committee process, shall announce in the Federal Register notice of the results of the preliminary review, together with proposed action or actions and a schedule for receiving public input consistent with section 203(e) of the ATPA, as amended (19 U.S.C. 3202(e)).

(1) The schedule shall include the deadline and guidelines for any party to submit written comments supporting, opposing or otherwise commencing on any proposed action.

(2) The schedule shall also include the time and place of the public hearing, as well as the deadline and guidelines for submitting requests to present oral testimony.

(d) After receiving and considering public input, the Andean Subcommittee shall submit the results of the final review to the TPSC. The TPSC shall review the work of the Andean Subcommittee and shall conduct further review as necessary. The TPSC shall prepare recommendations for the President on any proposed action to modify the ATPA. The Chairman of the TPSC shall report the results of the TPSC's review to the USTR, who may convene the TPRG, or refer the matter to the NSC committee process for further review of recommendations and decisions as necessary. The USTR, after receiving the advice of the TPSC, TPRG or the NSC committee process, shall make recommendations to the President on any proposed action to modify the ATPA, including recommendations that no action be taken. The USTR shall also forward to the President any documentation necessary to implement the recommended proposed action or actions to modify the ATPA.

(e) In considering whether to recommend any proposed action to modify the ATPA, the Andean Subcommittee, on behalf of the TPSC, TPRG, or the NSC committee process, shall review all relevant information submitted in connection with a petition or otherwise available.

Timetable for reviews.

Beginning in calendar year 2003, reviews of pending petitions shall be conducted at least once each year, according to the following schedule, unless otherwise specified by Federal Register notice:

(a) September 15: Deadline for submission of petitions for review;

(b) On or about December 1: Federal Register announcement of the results of the preliminary review;

(c) December/January: Written comments submitted and a public hearing held on any proposed actions;

(d) February/March: Preparation of recommendations to the President, Presidential decision, and implementation of Presidential decision.

Publication regarding requests.

Following the Presidential decision and, where required, the publication of a Presidential proclamation modifying the ATPA in the Federal Register, USTR will publish a summary of the decisions made in the Federal Register, including:

(a) For petitions upon which decisions were made, a description of the outcome of the review; and

(b) A list of petitions upon which no decision was made, and thus which are pending further review.

Information open to public inspection.

With the exception of information subject to § 2016.5, any person may, upon request, inspect in the USTR Reading Room:

(a) Any written petition, comments, or similar submission of information made pursuant to this part; and

(b) Any stenographic record of any public hearings held pursuant to this part.

Information exempt from public inspection.

(a) Information submitted in confidence shall be exempt from public inspection if it is determined that the Start Printed Page 5545disclosure of such information is not required by law.

(b) A party requesting an exemption from public inspection for information submitted in writing shall clearly mark each page “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” at the top, and shall submit a non-confidential summary of the confidential information. Such person shall also provide a written explanation of why the material should be so protected.

(c) A request for exemption of any particular information may be denied if it is determined that such information is not entitled to exemption under law. In the event of such a denial, the information will be returned to the person who submitted it, with a statement of the reasons for the denial.

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Bennett M. Harman,

Acting Assistant United States Trade Representative for the Americas.

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[FR Doc. 03-2705 Filed 2-3-03; 8:45 am]

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