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NEWS RELEASE 00-159; DECEMBER 22, 2000 December 22, 2000
News Release 00-159
Inv. No. 332-424

ITC TO ANALYZE IMPACT OF U.S.-ISRAELI AGRICULTURAL TRADE

As trade negotiators in the United States and Israel prepare to review a major bilateral agriculture agreement, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has launched a general factfinding investigation on the likely effects on the agricultural industry in both countries of U.S.-Israel agricultural trade conducted in a free trade environment.

The investigation, U.S.-Israel Agricultural Trade: Likely Effects on the U.S. and Israeli Agricultural Industries of U.S.-Israel Trade Conducted in a Free Trade Environment (Inv. No. 332-424), was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative in a letter received December 1, 2000. In the request letter, the USTR noted that in January 2001, the governments of the United States and Israel will initiate review of the U.S.-Israel Agreement on Trade in Agricultural Products (ATAP) to seek ways to improve the Agreement prior to its expiration on December 31, 2001.

The ATAP, an adjunct to the 1985 U.S.-Israel free trade area agreement (FTA Agreement), is a five-year agreement signed in 1996. The FTA applies in full to trade in all products between the two countries. However, the United States and Israel held differing interpretations as to the meaning of certain rights and obligations related to agricultural products under the FTA Agreement. In the interest of achieving practical improvements in agricultural trade between the two countries, the United States in 1996 entered into the ATAP with Israel. Since then, U.S. exporters of agricultural products have continued to face significant market barriers in Israel despite the ATAP, according to the USTR letter. The letter further states that Israel, by contrast, enjoys nearly full access to the U.S. market.

As requested, the ITC's report will analyze the likely effects on both the U.S. and Israeli agricultural industries of U.S.-Israel agricultural trade conducted in a free trade environment. Specifically, the ITC will:

The ITC will submit its report, which will be confidential, to USTR on June 1, 2001.

The ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with this investigation on March 6, 2001, 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 February 20, 2001, 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 statements (one original and 14 copies) should be submitted at the earliest practical date but no later than 5:15 p.m. on March 16, 2001. All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection. Written submissions should be addressed to the Secretary, United States International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.

Further information on the scope of this investigation and appropriate submissions is available in the ITC's notice of investigation, dated December 21, 2000, which may be obtained from the ITC Internet site (www.usitc.gov) or by contacting the Office of the Secretary at the above address or at 202-205-1806.

ITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs or trade and are generally conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Senate Committee on Finance, or the House Committee on Ways and Means. The resulting reports convey the Commission's objective findings and independent analyses on the subjects investigated. The Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the ITC submits its findings and analyses to the requester. General factfinding investigation reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified, like this one, by the requester for national security reasons.

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