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NEWS RELEASE 98-042; JUNE 5, 1998 June 5, 1998
News Release 98-042
Inv. No. 332-395

ITC SEEKS INPUT FOR INVESTIGATION CONCERNING THE EUROPEAN UNION'S ASSOCIATION AGREEMENTS WITH SELECTED CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN PARTNERS

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is seeking input from industry officials, trade associations, and other interested parties for a factfinding investigation concerning the effects on U.S. trade flows of the European Union's association agreements with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia.

The investigation, Effects on U.S. Trade of the European Union's Association Agreements with Selected Central and Eastern European Partners (Inv. No. 332-395), was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

In her request letter, the USTR noted that the European Union (EU) has signed a number of trade-liberalizing agreements with trading partners in Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean and is pursuing similar agreements with other countries, notably several in Latin America plus South Africa. These agreements, some of which have been in operation for several years, are presently being reviewed by the World Trade Organization's Committee on Regional Trading Arrangements. The agreements the EU has concluded with various Central and Eastern European countries have established the starting point for negotiations on EU membership which have commenced this year.

As requested, the ITC will assess, to the extent possible, the effects on U.S. trade flows, sector-by-sector (including agriculture), of the EU's association agreements with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia, both individually and on an aggregate basis. Specifically, the ITC investigation will encompass an analysis of potential trade diversionary effects of these agreements and a discussion of other relevant factors affecting trade in these sectors. In its report, for each of the specified partners, the Commission will:

In addition, the ITC will review and compile a bibliography of existing academic and other literature relating to this topic; solicit to the extent possible the views of U.S. firms having experience in the relevant markets; and discuss aggregate effects of all five agreements to the extent possible.

The ITC will submit its report to the USTR by April 15, 1999. The USTR indicated that portions of the ITC report will be confidential.

The ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with this investigation. The hearing will be held on November 18, 1998, at 9:30 a.m. at the ITC Building, 500 E Street, SW, Washington, DC. Requests to appear at the public hearing should be filed no later than 12:00 p.m. (noon) on November 6, 1998, with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20436. For hearing-related information, contact the Office of the Secretary at 202-205-1806.

The ITC also welcomes written submissions for the record in this investigation. Written submissions (one original and 14 copies) should be addressed to the Secretary at the above address and should be submitted at the earliest practical time but no later than 5:15 p.m. on November 25, 1998. All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection.

Further information on the scope of the investigation and appropriate submissions is available in the ITC's notice of investigation, dated June 5, 1998, which may be obtained from the ITC Internet server (www.usitc.gov) or by contacting the Office of the Secretary at the above address or on 202-205-1802.

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