December 29, 2003
News Release 03-121
Inv. Nos. TA-131-28 and TA-2104-10

ITC TO INVESTIGATE THE PROBABLE ECONOMIC EFFECT OF U.S. FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH ANDEAN COUNTRIES; SEEKS INPUT FROM TRADE ASSOCIATIONS, INDUSTRY OFFICIALS, AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is seeking input for a newly initiated investigation into the probable economic effect of a U.S. free trade agreement with the four beneficiary countries of the Andean Trade Preferences Act (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru).

The investigation, U.S.-Andean Countries Free Trade Agreement: Advice Concerning the Probable Economic Effect of Providing Duty-Free Treatment for Imports, was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in a letter received December 8, 2003.

In his letter to the Commission, the USTR noted that the United States plans to pursue a free trade agreement with the Andean countries.

As requested by the USTR, the ITC will advise the President as to the probable economic effect of providing duty-free treatment for imports of products of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru (as a group) on industries in the United States producing like or directly competitive articles and on consumers. In preparing its advice, the ITC will consider each article in chapters 1 through 97 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States for which U.S. tariffs will remain after the United States fully implements its Uruguay Round tariff commitments. The advice will be based on the 2003 Harmonized Tariff System nomenclature and trade data for the year 2002. The advice will assume that any known U.S. nontariff barrier will not be applicable to such imports, and the ITC will note in its report any instance in which the continued application of a U.S. non-tariff barrier would result in different advice with respect to the effect of the removal of the duty.

In addition, as requested by the USTR, the ITC will advise the President as to the probable economic effect of eliminating tariffs on imports of certain agricultural products of the Andean countries on U.S. industries producing like or directly competitive products and on the economy as a whole. A list of the products is attached to the USTR's request letter, which can be obtained from the ITC's electronic document information system (EDIS On-Line) on the ITC's web site (http://dockets/usitc.gov/eol/public/ (select "131" at the left, then scroll to the bottom for the link to this investigation)). A hard copy of the request letter can be requested from the investigation's project leader, Dennis Fravel, by phone (202-205-3404) or email (fravel@usitc.gov), or deputy project leader, Tracy Quilter, by phone (202-205-3437) or email (tquilter@usitc.gov).

The ITC will submit its report, which will be confidential, to the USTR by April 8, 2004.

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 February 10, 2004. (This will be a joint hearing at which the Commission will also take testimony in connection with its investigation U.S.-Panama FTA: Advice Concerning the Probable Economic Effect of Providing Duty-Free Treatment for Imports (Inv. Nos. TA-131-27 and TA-2104-9).) Requests to appear at the hearing (one original and 14 copies) should be filed no later than 5:15 p.m. on January 23, 2004, with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. For further information, call 202-205-1816.

The ITC also welcomes written submissions for the record. Written submissions (one original and 14 copies) should be addressed to the Secretary of the Commission at the above address and should be submitted at the earliest practical date but no later than 5:15 p.m. on February 17, 2004. All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection.

Further information on the scope of the investigation and appropriate submissions is available in the ITC's notice of investigation, dated December 24, 2003, which can be downloaded from the ITC Internet site (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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