EU consider retaliation

31 October 2002

THE EUROPEAN Commission has published a list of exported American leather products that could be saddled with protective duties of up to 100%, because of a World Trade Organisation ruling allowing Brussels to retaliate against the US use of foreign trade corporations to give its exporters illegal tax breaks. The WTO ruled that by allowing its companies to set up special export subsidiaries in tax havens, the US was breaking world fair trading rules. As usual in these cases, the complaining party (here the EU) has been given permission to levy duties on American products to counter the effect of the illegal measures. The Commission included raw hides and skins, articles of leather, saddlery, travel goods, handbags and similar containers on its long list of products that could be hit. Brussels will now consult with European industry about this list before choosing which duties it will finally impose. Euro Commerce secretary general Xavier R Durieu said: 'It is important that Europe's counter measures meet all necessary conditions for effectiveness, but it must be excluded in any case that they cause harm to commerce in Europe.' Specific leather tariff lines that have been included on the list include whole hides and skins of horses, bovine animals, (including buffalo), sheep or lambs, chamois, composition leather and others.

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