WASHINGTON (B)--Officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative have told U.S. farm industry aides that a long-delayed list of punitive duties on European imports may be released around the middle of November, industry sources told Bridge News Oct. 20.
The list, part of a "carousel retaliation" plan, allows the United States to rotate the list of European products to be targeted with tariffs. The tariffs are being imposed in retaliation for the EU's failure to comply with WTO rulings on the long-running beef and banana trade disputes.
U.S. agricultural groups have been pressing for the release of the new tariff list, as they say that rotating the tariff list makes it more effective because it spreads the pain around to a greater number of European industries.
When carousel retaliation was authorized by Congress last May, USTR said it intended to release the list a month later, by June 19. It still has not been released, and USTR has given no indication on when it may be issued.
But on Oct. 20, farm industry sources told BridgeNews that USTR officials told them in a meeting earlier in the day that the list would probably be released Nov. 18. USTR officials briefed farm industry officials on various trade matters during the meeting.
The November date is significant because the legislation authorizing carousel retaliation called for the tariff list to be rotated every six months, and November would be six months after the bill was passed in May.
However, one industry official told BridgeNews that there could be some White House resistance to a November release.
"I'm not ready to take that to the bank," the official said.
Many trade experts say that Clinton Administration is reluctant to release the punitive tariff list while it is embroiled in another trade dispute with the European Union over a U.S. offshore tax program called the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) tax plan.
In the FSC dispute, it is possible that the WTO may award the European Union the right to place billions of dollars worth of punitive tariffs on imports from the United States, and thus the White House may be reluctant to antagonize E.U. officials by releasing the carousel list.
A USTR spokesman, contacted late Friday, said he could not confirm that his agency planned to release the list in mid-November. The spokesman said that USTR's legal counsel was still looking into the matter.