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Notice

WTO Dispute Settlement Proceeding Regarding European Communities-Certain Measures Affecting Poultry Meat and Poultry Meat Products From the United States

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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 October 23, 2009, the United States requested the establishment of a panel under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (“WTO Agreement”) with respect to certain measures of the European Communities (“EC”) affecting the import and marketing of poultry products from the United States. That request may be found at www.wto.org contained in a document designated as WT/DS389/4. 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 January 8, 2010 to be assured of timely consideration by USTR.

ADDRESSES:

Public comments should be submitted electronically to http://www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2009-0005. If you are unable to provide submissions by http://www.regulations.gov, please contact Sandy McKinzy at (202) 395-9483 to arrange for an alternative method of transmission. If (as explained below) the comment contains confidential information, then the comment should be submitted by fax only to Sandy McKinzy at (202) 395-3640.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

J. Sloane Strickler, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20508, (202) 395-6164.

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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. Consistent with this obligation, USTR is providing notice that the establishment of a dispute settlement panel has been requested pursuant to the WTO Start Printed Page 61201 Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (“DSU”). If such a 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 nine months after it is established.

Major Issues Raised by the United States

The EC prohibits the import of poultry treated with any substance other than water unless that substance has been approved by the EC. The EC has not approved any other substance. Consequently, the EC prohibits the import of poultry that has been processed with chemical treatments (“pathogen reduction treatments” or “PRTs”) designed to reduce the amount of microbes on the meat, effectively prohibiting the shipment of virtually all U.S. poultry to the EC. The EC has not published or otherwise made available the process for approving a substance. The EC also maintains a measure regarding the marketing standards for poultry meat, which defines “poultrymeat” as only “poultrymeat suitable for human consumption, which has not undergone any treatment other than cold treatment.”

In 2002, the United States requested the European Commission to approve the use of four PRTs in the production of poultry intended for export to the EC: acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, peroxyacids, and chlorine dioxide. However, after more than six years, including unexplained delays, the EC has not approved any of these four PRTs and instead has rejected the approval of their use.

The EC's failure to approve is despite the fact that various EC agencies have issued scientific reports regarding a number of different aspects related to the processing of poultry with these four PRTs. Those reports did not find any scientific basis for banning the use of these PRTs. To the contrary, the conclusion of these reports is that the importation and consumption of poultry processed with these four PRTs does not pose a risk to human health.

The United States considers that the EC's failure to approve these four PRTs is in breach of the EC's WTO obligations, in particular: Articles 2.2, 5.1, 5.2, 7, and 8, and Annexes B(1), B(5), and C(1) of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (“SPS Agreement”); Article 4.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture (“Agriculture Agreement”); Articles III:4, X:1, and XI:1 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (“GATT 1994”); and Article 2.1 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (“TBT Agreement”).

Public Comment: Requirements for Submissions

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning the issues raised in this dispute. Persons may submit public comments electronically to http://www.regulations.gov docket number USTR-2009-0005. If you are unable to provide submissions by http://www.regulations.gov, please contact Sandy McKinzy at (202) 395-9483 to arrange for an alternative method of transmission.

To submit comments via http://www.regulations.gov, enter docket number USTR-2009-0005 on the home page and click “search”. The site will provide a search-results page listing all documents associated with this docket. Find a reference to this notice by selecting “Notice” under “Document Type” on the left side of the search-results page, and click on the link entitled “Submit a Comment.” (For further information on using the http://www.regulations.gov Web site, please consult the resources provided on the Web site by clicking on “How to Use This Site” on the left side of the home page.)

The http://www.regulations.gov site provides the option of providing comments by filling in a “Type Comment and Upload File” field, or by attaching a document. It is expected that most comments will be provided in an attached document. If a document is attached, it is sufficient to type “See attached” in the “Type Comment and Upload File” field.

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 submitter. Confidential business information must be clearly designated as such and the submission must be marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” at the top and bottom of the cover page and each succeeding page. Any comment containing business confidential information must be submitted by fax to Sandy McKinzy at (202) 395-3640. A non-confidential summary of the confidential information must be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov. The non-confidential summary will be placed in the docket and open to public inspection.

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) Must provide a non-confidential summary of the information or advice.

Any comment containing confidential information must be submitted by fax. A non-confidential summary of the confidential information must be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov. The non-confidential summary will be placed in the docket and open to public inspection.

USTR will maintain a docket on this dispute settlement proceeding, accessible to the public. 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 or in the event of an appeal from such a panel, the U.S. submissions, any non-confidential submissions, or non-confidential summaries of submissions, received from other participants in the dispute; the report of the panel; and, if applicable, the report of the Appellate Body.

Comments will be placed in the docket and open to public inspection pursuant to 15 CFR 2006.13, except confidential business information exempt from public inspection in accordance with 15 CFR 2006.15 or information determined by USTR to be confidential in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 2155(g)(2). Comments open to public inspection may be viewed on the http://www.regulations.gov Web site.

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Daniel Brinza,

Assistant United States Trade Representative for Monitoring and Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. E9-28046 Filed 11-20-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-W0-P