The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has unanimously determined that the import relief provided by the President to the wheat gluten industry in 1998 continues to be necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury and that U.S. wheat gluten producers are making a positive adjustment to import competition.

The six-member commission will forward its determination and any recommendations to the President by April 2. The President will make the final decision on whether to extend the import relief, which was implemented June 1, 199B, in the form of a three-year-long quota.

A request for extended relief was filed in November by the Wheat Gluten Industry Council of the U. S. (WGIC), under Section 204 of the Trade Act of 1974. At a hearing last month, WGIC members testified that European Union (EU) gluten producers have circumvented the current quota through various strategies, causing serious injury to the U.S. industry and a need by domestic producers for more time to adjust to the surge in imports.

In conjunction with the ITC's announcement, Commissioner Lynn Bragg offered the following separate statements: "I determine that extension of relief is necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury to the domestic industry. I also determine that there is evidence that the domestic industry is making a positive adjustment to import competition. I note that my determinations reflect concerns set forth in my separate and additional views in the commission's mid-term monitoring report on the domestic wheat gluten industry. I continue to find that problems associated with the implementation of the remedy have significantly diminished the effectiveness of the quota relief As a result, the remedy has not provided the minimum level of relief necessary to address the serious injury to the domestic industry. Extension of relief is therefore necessary to allow the domestic industry to fully implement its adjustment efforts and thereby make a positive adjustment to import competition."

Ladd Seaberg, president and chief executive officer of Midwest Grain Products Inc., and president of the WGIC, was pleased with the ITC's determination. "We are extremely grateful to the ITC for recognizing the facts that warrant extended relief," he said. "The additional relief from unfair competition from the EU will be essential for the U.S. industry to effectively carry out its adjustment plan and to develop a more level playing field long-term," he added.

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