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Notice

WTO Dispute Settlement Proceeding Regarding Turkey-Measures Affecting the Importation of Rice

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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 November 2, 2005, in accordance with the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (“WTO Agreement”), the United States requested consultations regarding Turkey's import licensing regime and domestic purchase requirement on imports of rice. That request may be found at http://www.wto.org contained in a document designated as WT/DS334/1. 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 consultations, comments should be submitted on or before January 1, 2006 to be assured of timely consideration by USTR.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should be submitted (i) electronically, to FR0604@ustr.gov, with “Turkey Rice (DS334)” in the subject line, or (ii) by fax, to Sandy McKinzy at (202) 395-3640, with a confirmation copy sent electronically to the electronic mail address above, in accordance with the requirements for submission set out below.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jeff Weiss, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC, (202) 395-4498.

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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. In an effort to provide additional opportunity for comment, USTR is providing notice that consultations have been requested pursuant to the WTO Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (“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

On November 2, 2005, the United States requested the establishment of a panel regarding Turkey's import licensing regime and domestic purchase requirement on imports of rice. Those measures include:

  • Decree No. 96/7794 related to the General Assessment of the Regime Regarding Technical Regulations and Standardization for Foreign Trade (Official Gazette, No. 22541, February 1, 1996, Repeated)
  • Decision of the board of ministers: Decree No. 2004/7135 related to the implementation of a tariff quota for certain types of paddy rice and rice types imports (Official Gazette, No. 25439, April 20, 2004);
  • A notification related to implementation of tariff quotas for certain types of paddy and rice imports, from the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat (Official Gazette, No. 25445, April 27, 2004);
  • Decision of the board of ministers: Decree No. 2004/7333 related to the management of quota and tariff contingent on import (Official Gazette, No. 25473, May 26, 2004);
  • Decision of the board of ministers: Decree No. 2004/7756 related to the implementation of a tariff contingent on the import of certain paddy rice and rice types (Official Gazette, No. 25565, August 27, 2004);
  • A notification about the implementation of a tariff contingent on the import of certain paddy rice and rice types, from the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat (Official Gazette, No. 25577, September 8, 2004);
  • A notification on Standardization in Foreign Trade, Notification No. 2005/05 (Official Gazette, No. 25687, December 31, 2004);
  • A notification about the amendment of the notification related to the implementation of a tariff contingent on the import of certain paddy rice and rice types, from the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat (Official Gazette, No. 25767, March 26, 2005);
  • A notification about the amendment of the notification related to the implementation of a tariff contingent (customs duty) on the import of certain paddy rice and rice types, from the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat (Official Gazette, No. 25812, May 11, 2005);
  • Decision of the board of ministers: Decree No. 2005/9315 related to the implementation of a tariff contingent on the import of certain types of paddy rice and rice types (Official Gazette, No. 25935, September 13, 2005);
  • A notification related to the implementation of a tariff contingent on the import of certain paddy rice and rice types, from the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat (Official Gazette, No. 25943, September 21, 2005); and
  • Any amendments or extensions to these measures, and any related or implementing measures. Start Printed Page 72687

Under Turkey's import regime for rice, Turkey requires an import license to import rice. However, Turkey appears to fail to grant licenses to import rice at the bound rate of duty. In addition, Turkey operates a tariff-rate quota for rice imports requiring that in order to import specified quantities of rice at reduced tariff levels, importers must purchase specified quantities of domestic rice, including from the Turkish Grain Board (TMO), Turkish producers, or producer associations (“the domestic purchase requirement”). Turkey appears to administer the domestic purchase requirement through its import licensing regime.

USTR believes these measures are inconsistent with Turkey's obligations under Article 2.1 and paragraph 1(a) of Annex 1 of the TRIMs Agreement; Articles III (including paragraphs 4, 5, and 7) and XI:1 of the GATT 1994; Article 4.2 of the Agriculture Agreement; and Articles 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 3.2, 3.3, 3.5(a), 3.5(b), 3.5(d), 3.5(e), 3.5(f), 3.5(g), 3.5(h), 3.5(k), 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4 of the Import Licensing Agreement.

Public Comment: Requirements for Submissions

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning the issues raised in the dispute. Comments should be submitted (i) electronically, to FR0604@ustr.gov, with “Turkey Rice (DS334)” in the subject line, or (ii) by fax, to Sandy McKinzy at (202) 395-3640, with a confirmation copy sent electronically to the electronic mail address above. 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.

Comments must be in English. 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 designated as such and “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” must be marked at the top and bottom of the cover page and each succeeding page.

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 clearly so designate the information or advice;

(2) Must clearly mark the material as “SUBMITTED IN CONFIDENCE” at the top and bottom of the cover page and each succeeding page; 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 non-confidential 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-334, Turkey Rice Dispute) 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 noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Daniel Brinza,

Assistant United States Trade Representative for Monitoring and Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. E5-6905 Filed 12-5-05; 8:45 am]

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