Trade Concerns Raised Against Various Countries
18 July 2013
Posted by: Author: Mike Godfrey
Author: Mike Godfrey
At the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Council for Trade in Goods meeting on July 11, 2013, concerns were raised over certain trade measures used by Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, Japan, Indonesia and Nigeria.
Japan expressed serious concern over Ukraine’s imposition of safeguard duties on automobiles last April, which it said had seriously affected Japanese exporters. It questioned the basis for the measure, adding that Ukraine had not provided adequate opportunity for prior consultations as required by the Safeguards Agreement. Australia, Korea, the European Union, the Russian Federation and Turkey shared these concerns
Ukraine said that it imposed the safeguard duty after domestic auto production decreased by 78 percent and employment in the sector declined by 50 percent. It said it had fulfilled all the requirements of the Safeguards Agreement, adding that the measure is temporary and aimed at helping domestic producers adjust to global competition. It expressed disappointment that some members have taken counter measures instead of pursuing consultations.
On another matter, the EU and the United States expressed concern about Ukraine’s import quota on coking coal, noting a recent domestic court ruling against the measure. Australia and the Russian Federation also expressed concerns. Ukraine said that the import licensing measure would end in December, and that in the meantime, it had increased the quota to traditional levels.
On Ukraine’s Article XXVIII notification, the US urged Ukraine to heed the views of many WTO members to abandon its renegotiation of its bound tariffs. The following delegations reiterated concerns about the impact of Ukraine’s notification on the predictability of the multilateral trading system: Singapore on behalf of the ASEAN, EU, Turkey, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, Norway, China and Hong Kong, China.
Ukraine said Article XXVIII is a right regularly invoked by members and should not be seen as a protectionist measure. It said that its notification covered only 3 percent of its total tariff lines of 11,000, and that it will provide country-specific compensation.
The US noted that it would be nearly one year since Russia’s WTO accession, and was disappointed with some of Russia’s trade actions. It reiterated concerns about Russia’s recycling program on cars, and the delay in its accession to the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA). It said it is in constructive discussions with Russia regarding sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. The EU said it is concerned by what it called the recent surge of protectionist measures in Russia, and that after a year of discussions, it had no choice but to launch dispute settlement consultation regarding the recycling fee. On SPS, it is concerned by the multiplication of measures against the EU, such as the import ban on live animals being extended to other products. Japan echoed concerns about the recycling fee and ITA delay. Chinese Taipei also expressed concern about the ITA delay.
Russia said it had taken note of the concerns, and all questions would be answered in due course.
The EU reiterated concerns raised in previous meetings over Brazil’s use of indirect taxation to protect domestic industries, including through the use of domestic content requirements. It had also raised this matter at the Market Access Committee and at the recent trade policy review of Brazil. Japan said it had raised this matter at previous meetings and in the Trade-related Investment Measures (TRIMs) Committee. Australia, US, Canada and Hong Kong, China expressed similar concerns.
Brazil said that it had provided a good amount of information on its programs in other WTO bodies, including in its latest trade policy review. It emphasized that the government is trying to rationalize Brazil’s tax system to promote and develop innovation and protect the environment. It added that many EU and Japanese companies have been accredited to the program.
The EU expressed concern that Japan’s "wood point stimulus program” to boost the supply and use of domestic forest products would admit only Japanese wood species and not foreign wood. Canada, New Zealand, US and Malaysia expressed concern that the program would negatively impact imported wood products.
Japan said that the purpose of the program is to encourage the use of wood from forests that are increasing in volume. It said that the program is non-discriminatory, and that foreign suppliers can join the program.
The US repeated its concerns about what it called a complex web of opaque trade restrictions in Indonesia affecting agriculture, energy and consumer goods. It is also concerned by local-content requirements in telecoms, mining and gas sectors, and now being extended to other sectors. The EU then took the opportunity to underline concerns about Indonesia's import licensing restrictions, and about a new food law. It said burdensome requirements have deterred European companies from exporting to Indonesia. Thailand said that import restrictions have led to a sharp decline in Thai exports of fruits and vegetables to Indonesia. Japan, Canada, Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand and Hong Kong, China expressed similar concerns.
Indonesia said that it had made changes in its horticultural measures, and that it had implemented reforms in its oil and gas sectors. It noted that its trade deficit has been increasing, and that its imports from the US, Japan and other members are on the rise.
The EU and the US said they had raised questions about Nigeria’s local content measures in oil and gas in the TRIMs Committee but had not received any response. Australia said it also has questions about these measures.
The Nigerian representative said he is still waiting for responses to the questions from his capital.
The Philippines reported that its discussions with interested members on its request for a waiver relating to special treatment for rice have made concrete progress, and that it expects a breakthrough by the October meeting of the Goods Council.
Australia said that the special agricultural safeguard expired in June last year, thus adding urgency to the Philippine request. It urged the Philippines to look at other possible options, including "tariffication.” Canada said it is concerned over the lack of flexibility by the Philippines regarding its modest request for compensatory concessions. Thailand and the US said they are still in discussion with the Philippines. China added that it supported the Philippines' concern on food security, and encouraged the country to conclude the consultations.