Meat Industry INSIGHTS Newsletter

990603 USA Seek Damages in Beef Hormone Dispute

June 2, 1999

Washington - The United States will not explain until it is required to do so why it chose $202 million as the sum it will seek in punitive duties on the European Union in a trade dispute over hormone-treated beef, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office said.

The United States plans to make its formal request to retaliate on $202 million worth of EU goods during a special meeting on Thursday of the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement body.

Jay Ziegler, spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, said the United States will not explain any sooner than necessary why it decided to seek that amount in 100 percent duties.

Because the EU is expected to challenge the figure under WTO procedures, “we don't particularly want to telegraph our economic calculus,” Ziegler said.

The United States announced last month that it would seek WTO approval to retaliate after the EU failed to meet a May 13 deadline to lift its 10-year-old ban on imports of beef from cattle treated with artificial growth hormones.

Two separate WTO dispute panels have ruled that the EU's ban violates international trading rules.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association had urged the United States to retaliate on at least of $500 million of EU products. The group argued that U.S. beef sales to the EU would have grown to that level if not for the ban.

But U.S. trade officials decided on an estimate of lost sales that they believe they could more easily defend.

“We believe the figure will stand up very well to scrutiny,” U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said at the time.

But since the EU is expected to challenge the figure, the United States will not actually lay out its arguments in support of the $202 million figure until an arbitration date is set, officials said.

The WTO arbitration process is expected to produce a decision on the level of U.S. retaliation by mid-July.

Once a figure is determined, the United States plans to announce which products it will hit with the 100 percent duties, officials said.

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