Trade Development (TD) has created a website, http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/industry/otea/301alert/, which is designed to provide prompt notification to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of Section 301 retaliation actions. In light of the recent passage of the "Carousel legislation," which mandates periodic revisions to retaliation lists, expeditious notification to SMEs will become increasingly important.
When foreign countries fail to comply with the results of dispute settlement under international trade agreements, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is authorized to take retaliatory action under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Therefore, Section 301 cases may lead the United States to impose prohibitive tariffs on a range of imported products. This range of products is commonly called a "retaliation list". USTR relies on the industry and trade analysis expertise of TD to develop the preliminary retaliation lists. An important consideration in developing retaliation lists is to minimize the harmful impact on U.S. importers and producers. To meet this consideration, USTR publishes preliminary retaliation lists in the Federal Register notice and requests public comment on potential harmful effects.
The catalyst for TD efforts to create the 301 Alert website was the sizable number of SMEs who were unaware of the Federal Register notices concerning products targeted for retaliation in the recent EU Beef and EU Bananas cases. Consequently, these companies did not provide comments, which could have potentially led to the removal of certain items from the list. Some products on the final retaliation lists were specialty items imported by SMEs occupying niche markets. The sudden increase in duties caught the companies by surprise, and many suffered as a result of the corresponding increase in costs. This website was created to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.
The 301 Alert website provides U.S. businesses with automatic notices of Section 301 developments, including directions on where potential retaliation products are listed and opportunities to provide public comment. The website does not list products but directs users to the USTR website, which posts the retaliation lists. The website also contains all relevant information on the 301 process for casual browsers or those who do not wish to register.
An aggressive outreach program is underway to promote the site among the SME community. Commerce announced the website earlier this year in a press release and an article featuring the website was published in the MAY 2000 Export America magazine. The Small Business Advocate and Chamber.com, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce publication, have also indicated their intention to run stories on the website in the coming months. A broadcast e-mail was sent to all Export Assistance Centers across the U.S. and many have also been individually contacted and asked to spread the word to companies and trade associations. The Industry Sector Advisory Committees have also been briefed on the new website.
The web site will be particularly helpful to U.S. businesses given the passage of the "Carousel legislation," which requires the U.S. Government to periodically revise retaliation lists.
Congressman Menendez has consecutively introduced three bills designed to relieve SMEs of the cost burden imposed by retaliatory duties. These bills would exempt certain small businesses from the increased duties levied against EU products as a result of the Beef and Bananas cases.
ACTION FORCING EVENTS
All future actions under Section 301 will be posted on the website, and a broadcast e-mail will go out to all registered companies and individuals.
Your comments and suggestions for these pages are most welcomed!
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Revised: June 15, 2001 TAF
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