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Notice

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): Initiation of a Review To Consider the Designation of the Republic of Kosovo as a Beneficiary Developing Country Under the GSP

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AGENCY:

Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION:

Notice and solicitation of public comment.

SUMMARY:

This notice announces the initiation of a review to consider designating the Republic of Kosovo as a beneficiary developing country (BDC) for purposes of the GSP program, and solicits public comments on whether Kosovo meets certain eligibility criteria Start Printed Page 54638for designation as a BDC. Comments are due by Friday, October 17, 2008, and must be submitted in accordance with the requirements set out below.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: FR0711@USTR.EOP.GOV. (Note: the digit before the number in the e-mail address is the number zero, not a letter.)

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For assistance, contact Regina Teeter, USTR's GSP Office at 202-395-6971.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The GSP Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) has initiated a review in order to make a recommendation to the President as to whether Kosovo meets the eligibility criteria of the GSP statute. After considering the recommendation, the President is authorized to, and may, designate Kosovo as a BDC for purposes of the GSP program.

Interested persons are invited to submit comments on whether Kosovo meets the eligibility criteria set forth below and in section 502(c) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2462(c)) (the “Act”).

Eligibility Criteria

The trade benefits of the GSP program are available to any country that the President designates as a GSP “beneficiary developing country.” In designating countries as GSP beneficiary developing countries, the President must consider the criteria in sections 502(b)(2) and 502(c) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2462(b)(2), 2462(c)) (“the Act”). Section 502(b)(2) provides that a country is ineligible for designation if:

1. Such country is a Communist country, unless—

(a) The products of such country receive nondiscriminatory treatment, (b) Such country is a WTO Member (as such term is defined in section 2(10) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act) (19 U.S.C. 3501(10)) and a member of the International Monetary Fund, and (c) Such country is not dominated or controlled by international communism.

2. Such country is a party to an arrangement of countries and participates in any action pursuant to such arrangement, the effect of which is—

(a) To withhold supplies of vital commodity resources from international trade or to raise the price of such commodities to an unreasonable level, and (b) To cause serious disruption of the world economy.

3. Such country affords preferential treatment to the products of a developed country, other than the United States, which has, or is likely to have, a significant adverse effect on United States commerce.

4. Such country—

(a) Has nationalized, expropriated, or otherwise seized ownership or control of property, including patents, trademarks, or copyrights, owned by a United States citizen or by a corporation, partnership, or association which is 50 percent or more beneficially owned by United States citizens, (b) Has taken steps to repudiate or nullify an existing contract or agreement with a United States citizen or a corporation, partnership, or association which is 50 percent or more beneficially owned by United States citizens, the effect of which is to nationalize, expropriate, or otherwise seize ownership or control of property, including patents, trademarks, or copyrights, so owned, or (c) Has imposed or enforced taxes or other exactions, restrictive maintenance or operational conditions, or other measures with respect to property, including patents, trademarks, or copyrights, so owned, the effect of which is to nationalize, expropriate, or otherwise seize ownership or control of such property, unless the President determines that—

(i) Prompt, adequate, and effective compensation has been or is being made to the citizen, corporation, partnership, or association referred to above, (ii) Good faith negotiations to provide prompt, adequate, and effective compensation under the applicable provisions of international law are in progress, or the country is otherwise taking steps to discharge its obligations under international law with respect to such citizen, corporation, partnership, or association, or (iii) A dispute involving such citizen, corporation, partnership, or association over compensation for such a seizure has been submitted to arbitration under the provisions of the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, or in another mutually agreed upon forum, and the President promptly furnishes a copy of such determination to the Senate and House of Representatives.

5. Such country fails to act in good faith in recognizing as binding or in enforcing arbitral awards in favor of United States citizens or a corporation, partnership, or association which is 50 percent or more beneficially owned by United States citizens, which have been made by arbitrators appointed for each case or by permanent arbitral bodies to which the parties involved have submitted their dispute.

6. Such country aids or abets, by granting sanctuary from prosecution to, any individual or group which has committed an act of international terrorism or the Secretary of State makes a determination with respect to such country under section 6(j)(1)(A) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. Appx. section 2405(j)(1)(A)) or such country has not taken steps to support the efforts of the United States to combat terrorism.

7. Such country has not taken or is not taking steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights to workers in the country (including any designated zone in that country).

8. Such country has not implemented its commitments to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

Section 502(c) provides that, in determining whether to designate any country as a GSP beneficiary developing country, the President shall take into account:

1. An expression by such country of its desire to be so designated;

2. The level of economic development of such country, including its per capita gross national product, the living standards of its inhabitants, and any other economic factors which the President deems appropriate;

3. Whether or not other major developed countries are extending generalized preferential tariff treatment to such country;

4. The extent to which such country has assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets and basic commodity resources of such country and the extent to which such country has assured the United States that it will refrain from engaging in unreasonable export practices;

5. The extent to which such country is providing adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights;

6. The extent to which such country has taken action to—

(a) Reduce trade distorting investment practices and policies (including export performance requirements); and (b) Reduce or eliminate barriers to trade in services; and

7. Whether or not such country has taken or is taking steps to afford to workers in that country (including any designated zone in that country) internationally recognized worker rights. Note that the Trade Act of 2002 amended paragraph (D) of the definition of the term “internationally recognized worker rights,” which now includes: (A) The right of association; (B) the right to organize and bargain collectively; (C) a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor; (D) a minimum age for the employment of children and a prohibition on the worst Start Printed Page 54639forms of child labor as defined in paragraph (6) of section 507(4) of the Act; and (E) acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.

Requirements for Submissions

Comments must be submitted, in English, to the Chairman of the GSP Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) as soon as possible, but not later than 5 p.m., Friday, October 17, 2008.

In order to facilitate prompt processing of submissions, USTR strongly recommends that comments be set out in digital files attached to e-mails transmitted to the following address: FR0711@ustr.eop.gov (Note: The digit before the number in the e-mail address is the number zero, not a letter). For security reasons, hand-delivered submissions will not be accepted. If you are unable to provide comments by e-mail, please contact Regina Teeter, USTR's GSP Office at (202) 395-6971 to arrange for an alternative method of transmission.

Comments should be provided in a single copy and must not exceed 30 single-spaced standard letter-size pages in 12-point type or a digital file size of three megabytes. E-mails should include the following subject line: “Designation of the Republic of Kosovo as a GSP Beneficiary Country.” The transmittal message or cover letter accompanying a submission must be set out exclusively in the digital file attached to the e-mail transmission—not in the message portion of e-mail—and must include the sender's name, organization name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.

Digital files must be submitted in one of the following formats: WordPerfect (.WPD), Adobe (.PDF), MSWord (.DOC), or text (.TXT) files. Comments may not be submitted as electronic image files or contain embedded images, e.g., “.JPG”, “.TIF”, “.BMP”, or “.GIF”. Spreadsheet data may be submitted as Excel files, formatted for printing on 81/2 x 11 inch paper. To the extent possible, any data accompanying the submission should be set out in the same file as the submission itself, and not in a separate file.

If a submission contains business confidential information that the submitter wishes to protect from public disclosure, the confidential submission must be marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” at the top and bottom of each page. In addition, the submission must be accompanied by a non-confidential version that indicates, with asterisks, where confidential information was redacted or deleted. The top and bottom of each page of the non-confidential version must be marked either “PUBLIC VERSION” or “NON-CONFIDENTIAL”. Business confidential comments that are submitted without the required markings or that are not accompanied by a properly marked non-confidential version as set forth above may not be accepted or may be treated as public documents.

The digital file name assigned to any business confidential version of a submission 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 person (government, company, union, association, etc.) making the submission.

Public versions of all documents relating to this review will be available for review approximately two weeks after the due date by appointment in the USTR public reading room, 1724 F Street, NW., Washington, DC. Appointments may be made from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, by calling (202) 395-6186.

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Marideth J. Sandler,

Executive Director for the GSP Program, Chairman, GSP Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee.

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[FR Doc. E8-22103 Filed 9-19-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-W8-P