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NEWS RELEASE 98-058; AUGUST 6, 1998 August 6, 1998
News Release 98-058
Inv. No. 332-396

ITC TO ANALYZE ECONOMIC TRENDS AND TRADE BARRIERS IN PRODUCTS COVERED BY THE WTO AGREEMENT ON AGRICULTURE; SEEKS INPUT

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is seeking input from industry officials, trade associations, and other interested parties for a factfinding investigation that will result in the development of an informational and analytical resource base for the Administration's use in upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on agricultural trade.

The investigation, Economic Trends and Barriers to Trade in Products Covered by the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (Inv. No. 332-396), was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in a letter received July 20, 1998. In her request letter, the USTR noted that significant agriculture trade liberalization achievements of the Uruguay Round will be realized by the year 2000, and the next round of WTO negotiations on agricultural trade is expected to begin in late 1999. The USTR indicated that during the course of the negotiations, the Administration will need to assess various offers dealing with tariff and rule changes in many agricultural sectors of importance to the United States, and it will be most important that the Administration be in a position to obtain thorough, rapid and accurate assessments of the trade and economic effects of various offers made.

As requested, the ITC will provide an informational and analytical resource base to assist the Administration in the upcoming WTO negotiations on agricultural trade. The study will examine the following sectors: grains; oilseeds (including peanuts); dairy; animals and animal products, other than dairy; sugar and other sweeteners; wine; cotton; fruits and vegetables (and tree nuts); and other products as covered in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. The examination will include: (1) recent trends in trade, production, and other relevant economic variables in these sectors; (2) barriers and/or distortions in major countries and product markets affecting this trade; and (3) methodologies for assessment of the effects of changes in various trade rules in each of these sectors upon the trade and economic interests of the United States. In addition, concise summaries of the information developed, both with respect to sector trends and trade barriers, will be prepared.

The ITC will submit its report, portions of which may be classified, to the USTR by July 20, 1999.

To help ITC staff identify barriers and/or distortions in major countries and product markets affecting trade in products covered in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, the Commission requests that interested parties provide preliminary written comments on such barriers and/or distortions by 5:15 p.m. on November 30, 1998. All preliminary written comments should be filed with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.

The ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with this investigation on March 16, 1999, 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 5:15 p.m. on March 2, 1999, 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 202-205-1816.

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 March 31, 1999. 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 August 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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