April 14, 1999
News Release 99-053
Inv. No. 332-405

ITC LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION ON LIKELY EFFECTS OF REDUCING OR
ELIMINATING U.S. TARIFFS; SEEKS INPUT FROM INTERESTED PARTIES

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is seeking input for a newly initiated investigation into the probable economic effects of reducing or eliminating U.S. import tariffs.

The investigation, Probable Economic Effects of the Reduction or Elimination of U.S. Tariffs (Investigation No. 332-405), was requested by the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

In her request letter, the USTR stated that a new round of multilateral negotiations will be launched at the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Third Ministerial Conference. The letter noted that the WTO Agreements mandate further negotiations on agriculture and that many WTO members are advocating new negotiations on industrial tariffs. The letter also noted that President Clinton and other leaders at the Miami and Santiago Summits of the Americas have called for the completion of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) no later than the year 2005, and that agricultural and industrial tariffs will be one area addressed in the FTAA negotiations.

As requested, the ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, will provide advice as to the probable economic effects on U.S. industries producing like or directly competitive articles, and on consumers, of modifying tariffs under three scenarios:

The USTR requested the advice for each article for which tariffs will remain after full implementation of the staged duty reductions resulting from the Uruguay Round or subsequent WTO agreements (e.g., the Information Technology Agreement). Thus, the ITC will provide the advice at an 8-digit subheading level of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS). There are a total of 6,424 current HTS subheadings whose goods will be dutiable after full implementation of the Uruguay Round or WTO staged duty reductions. A list of these HTS subheadings will be posted on the ITC Internet site at http://www.usitc.gov/invfrn.htm#332. A printed copy of the list is also available for inspection in the docket section of the Secretary's office.

In her letter, the USTR noted that "[T]his request by no means implies that we intend to take action on these tariff measures. It merely indicates our interest in obtaining factual advice from the Commission on the probable economic effects of their reduction or elimination."

The ITC will submit its confidential report to the USTR by November 17, 1999.

The ITC is seeking input for this investigation from all interested parties and requests that the information focus on the issues for which the ITC is requested to provide information and advice.

The ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation on Tuesday, June 15, 1999, continuing on Wednesday, June 16, 1999, if necessary. Requests to appear at the hearing should be filed no later than 5:15 p.m. on June 1, 1999, with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Any prehearing briefs (original and 14 copies) should be filed no later than 5:15 p.m. on June 3, 1999; the deadline for filing post-hearing briefs or statements is 5:15 p.m. on August 10, 1999. To allow sufficient time for full consideration, the Commission encourages all persons who appear at the public hearing to submit any prepared statements and accompanying material to the Secretary by 5:15 p.m. on June 10, 1999. For further information, call 202-205-1816.

The ITC also welcomes written submissions for the record. Written submissions (original and 14 copies) should be addressed to the Secretary to the Commission at the above address and should be submitted at the earliest practical date but no later than 5:15 p.m. on August 10, 1999.

Further information on the scope of the investigation and appropriate submissions is available in the ITC's notice of investigation dated April 14, 1999, which is available on the ITC Internet server (www.usitc.gov) or may be obtained by contacting the Office of the Secretary at the above address or at 202-205-1816.

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