USTR Issues Final Revised Tariff Retaliation List in EC-U.S. Beef Hormone Dispute  

Background  

As a result of successful trade litigation commenced by the United States, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body in August 1998 issued a ruling determining that a European Community (EC) ban on imports of hormone-treated beef nullifies and impairs U.S. benefits under the WTO Agreement, and in July 1999 authorized the United States to suspend tariff concessions to the EC covering trade in an amount of $116.8 million annually. Pursuant to that authorization, the United States, commencing in July 1999, has imposed punitive 100% ad valorem duties on a selected list of food and agricultural products from certain EU countries. Subsequent WTO litigation has upheld the United States’ retaliatory measures.  

On November 6, 2008, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) published notice of proposed revisions to the 1999 retaliation list and solicited public comments. On January 14, 2009, the USTR approved a final retaliation list with revised tariff requirements effective for entries or withdrawals for consumption on or after March 23, 2009.  

Revised Retaliation List Issued – Products Added/Removed and Country Coverage Changed Effective March 23, 2008  

The revised retaliation list was developed after interagency consideration of approximately 600 public comments and after lobbying efforts undertaken by various private interests potentially affected.

The revised retaliation list includes:  

  1. Product removals – entirely removes certain products from the list currently subject to 100% ad valorem duties (e.g., certain onions; dried carrots; rusks and toasted breads; chicory and coffee substitutes; prepared mustard; preserved tomatoes; animal guts, bladders, and stomachs; soups and broths; certain single yarn; and certain glues);  
  1. Product additions – imposes new 100% ad valorem duties on additional products (e.g., various types of meats (poultry meat, salted ham, beef, etc.), foliage branches, sausage, and offal products, chewing gum, pears and peaches, chestnuts (from France only), certain oat products, grape and mixed juices, mineral waters, and others);  
  1. Changes in country coverage – (a) expands the country coverage for most products included on the revised list to include the more-recently added Eastern European EC member states (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia); and (b) limits country coverage for certain products previously on the list (e.g., tariffs on other single fruit juices, HTS 2008.80.60, is now limited to Austria, Cyprus, France, and Poland); and  
  1. 300% Duty on Roquefort Cheese – raises the tariff level for one product, Roquefort cheese (HTS 0406.40.20 or 0406.40.40), to 300% ad valorem (see attached – Annex 2).  

A copy of the revised annex is attached to this alert. Companies interested in determining whether particular products or member countries are affected by these revised measures are encouraged to contact Hogan & Hartson.  

Retaliation List Subject to Further Revisions in Six Months  

Under the relevant statutes, the USTR must normally reevaluate the retaliation target list every six months. Accordingly, should the United States and the EC fail to resolve the underlying EC Beef- Hormone dispute before then, the USTR’s office may publish notice as early as June 2009 proposing a new round of modifications.