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Australia Wins WTO Case

Australia Wins WTO Case

A World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel has ruled in favour of Australia's complaint against the United States (US) subsidy program known as the "Byrd Amendment", Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.

Mr Vaile said the WTO panel's report was issued in Geneva overnight.

"I welcome the panel's findings. It confirms our view that the Byrd Amendment provides a double remedy against dumped or subsidised imports, and unfairly disadvantages Australian exports to the US and to third country markets which are neither dumped nor subsidised," Mr Vaile said.

"The Byrd Amendment, formally known as the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000, provides for anti-dumping and countervailing duties collected by the US to be distributed to competing US manufacturers of the same product who supported the imposition of anti-dumping or countervailing duties.

"Australia challenged the legislation in a joint action with ten other WTO Members: Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Communities, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Thailand.

"The case involved the largest number of WTO Members in a dispute to date. It reflected widespread concern that the legislation would be an incentive for US manufacturers to initiate unjustified anti-dumping and countervailing duty actions to protect themselves from fair competition, thus undermining WTO rules in these areas," Mr Vaile said.

"The case demonstrates the value of WTO rules in protecting Australia's broader trade interests. In its first full year of operation, the legislation affected only a few industries, including those involved in the manufacture of steel and pasta products, but $US206 million was paid to those industries. There was a significant risk that in time a much wider range of industries would have been affected, with a corresponding increase in the amounts to be distributed."

Mr Vaile said the panel's report was a good outcome for Australia, but that the United States is entitled to appeal the findings under WTO dispute rules. The outcome of any appeal was unlikely to be known before February 2003.

The panel's report is available at http://www.wto.org


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