WASHINGTON — The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced on March 12 that it is delaying imposing additional duties on a modified list of E.U. products by one month. The duties were in connection with World Trade Organization dispute settlement rulings in the E.U. beef hormones dispute.

Under a determination announced on Jan. 15, the additional duties were to go into effect on March 23. Under the delay just announced, the additional duties are now scheduled to go into effect on April 23.

"The purpose of the modified-trade action announced earlier this year was to encourage a resolution of the longstanding beef-hormones dispute that would offer a fair outcome for the U.S. beef industry, while also addressing the economic impact of the prior trade action on U.S. interests," said Nefeterius McPherson, U.S.T.R. spokesperson. "U.S.T.R. is currently in discussions with the European Commission on a possible interim solution that would provide benefits for U.S. beef producers. These discussions have made progress, although several important issues remain to be resolved. U.S.T.R. has decided to delay the trade action in order to give this process every possibility of success."

The changes announced on Jan. 15 made additions to and deletions from the list of the products subject to additional duties, changed the E.U. member states whose products are subject to the duties, and for one product, increased the level of the additional duties. Under the decision announced March 12, most of these changes will be delayed for one month and will now be effective on April 23, 2009.

In order to respect commercial arrangements that have been made in the period since Jan. 15, however, there will be no delay in the March 23 effective date of the deletion of products from the list of products subject to additional duties.

In 1988, the E.U. banned U.S. beef on the grounds that U.S. beef producers made use of certain growth-promoting hormones that are unapproved in the E.U. The W.T.O. dispute began in January 1996, shortly after the entry into force of the W.T.O. In 1998, the W.T.O. found that the E.U.’s ban on U.S. beef was not supported by science and was thus inconsistent with W.T.O. rules.

When the E.U. failed to bring its ban into compliance with its W.T.O. obligations, the W.T.O. authorized the U.S. to take retaliatory trade measures with an annual trade value of $116.8 million. In July 1999, the U.S. imposed additional duties on a list of E.U. products in accordance with the W.T.O. authorization. That list remained unchanged until the modifications were announced on Jan. 15, 2009.

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