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NEWS RELEASE 02-108; November 21, 2002 November 21, 2002
News Release 02-108
Inv. No. TA-131-23 and TA-2104-3

ITC TO INVESTIGATE THE PROBABLE ECONOMIC EFFECT OF A U.S.-SOUTHERN AFRICAN CUSTOMS UNION FREE TRADE AGREEMENT; SEEKS INPUT FROM TRADE ASSOCIATIONS, INDUSTRY OFFICIALS, AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is seeking input for a newly initiated investigation into the probable economic effect of a U.S.-Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Free Trade Agreement.

The investigation, U.S.-Southern African Customs Union FTA: Advice Concerning the Probable Economic Effect was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in a letter received November 7, 2002.

In his letter to the Commission, the USTR noted that the United States plans to pursue a free trade agreement with SACU countries, which are Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. The USTR indicated in his request letter that advice from the Commission will assist the USTR in its consultations with Congress and in its preparations for negotiations.

As requested by the USTR, the ITC will advise the President as to the probable economic effect of providing duty-free treatment for imports of products of SACU countries on industries in the United States producing like or directly competitive articles and on consumers. In preparing its advice, the ITC will consider each article in chapters 1 through 97 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States for which U.S. tariffs will remain after the United States fully implements its Uruguay Round tariff commitments. The advice will be based on the 2002 Harmonized Tariff System nomenclature and trade data for the year 2001. The advice will assume that any known U.S. non-tariff barrier will not be applicable to such imports, and the ITC will note in its report any instance in which the continued application of a U.S. non-tariff barrier would result in different advice with respect to the effect of the removal of the duty.

In addition, as requested by the USTR, the ITC will advise the President as to the probable economic effect of eliminating tariffs on imports of certain agricultural products of SACU countries on U.S. industries producing like or directly competitive products and the economy as a whole. A list of the products is attached to the USTR's request letter, which can be obtained from the ITC's electronic document information system (EDIS On-Line) on the ITC's web site (http://dockets/usitc.gov/eol/public/ (select "131" at the left, then scroll to the bottom for the link to this investigation). A hard copy of the request letter can be requested from the investigation's co-project leaders, Joanna Bonarriva, by phone (202-205-3312) or email (jbonarriva@usitc.gov) and Jonathan Coleman, by phone (202-205-3465) or email (jcoleman@usitc.gov).

The ITC will submit its report, which will be confidential, to the USTR by April 7, 2003.

The ITC is seeking input for this investigation from all interested parties and requests that the information focus on the issues for which the ITC is requested to provide information and advice.

The ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation on January 28, 2003. Requests to appear at the hearing (one original and 14 copies) should be filed no later than 5:15 p.m. on January 14, 2003, with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. For further information, call 202-205-1816.

The ITC also welcomes written submissions for the record. Written submissions (one original and 14 copies) should be addressed to the Secretary of the Commission at the above address and should be submitted at the earliest practical date but no later than 5:15 p.m. on February 4, 2003. 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 November 21, 2002, which can be downloaded from the ITC Internet site (www.usitc.gov) or may be obtained by contacting the Office of the Secretary at the above address or at 202-205-1816.

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