November 21, 2000
News Release 00-145
Inv. No. 332-421


The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has launched a general factfinding investigation to analyze tariff and non-tariff barriers that impact trade in processed foods and beverages.

The investigation, Processed Foods and Beverages: A Description of Tariff and Non-tariff Barriers for Major Products and their Impact on Trade (Inv. No. 332-421), was requested by the Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, in a letter received October 31, 2000.

In its request letter, the Committee noted that processed food and beverage exports are an increasingly important segment of U.S. agricultural trade, comprising over 40 percent of U.S. agricultural exports in 1999. At the same time, the Committee said, these sectors face significant tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede U.S. exports. Moreover, given the traditional orientation of government agencies towards the export of bulk commodities, there is little empirical work that assesses the impact of these trade barriers on the processed food and beverage sectors, according to the Committee.

As requested, the ITC will describe the trade barriers that affect major products in the processed food and beverage sectors in major and potential markets and analyze their impact on trade. The Committee asked the ITC to study the following processed food and beverage sectors: dairy products; sugars and sugar-containing products; vegetable oils; meats; eggs and egg products; flours and other intermediate goods; grain-based foods; fruits and vegetables; edible nuts and nut products; alcoholic beverages; pet food; and other miscellaneous food and beverage products. For these sectors, the ITC will describe the tariff and non-tariff barriers affecting trade in major and potential markets, including complex tariffs, tariff-rate quotas, regional trade agreements, licensing arrangements, certification and registration requirements, and variable levies; evaluate the prevalence of tariff escalation for processed food and beverage products; and analyze the impact of tariff and non-tariff barriers on trade and investment in the processed food and beverage sectors.

The ITC will submit its report to the Committee by October 1, 2001.

The ITC is seeking preliminary written comments from interested parties to assist it in identifying the barriers and/or issues for investigation. Preliminary written comments should be submitted by February 16, 2001, to the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Interested parties are also encouraged to provide further information at the Commission's public hearing and in additional written submissions.

The ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with this investigation on May 22, 2001, at 9:30 a.m. at the ITC Building, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC. Requests to appear at the public hearing should be filed no later than 5:15 p.m. on May 8, 2001, with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. For hearing-related information, contact the Office of the Secretary at 202-205-1806.

The ITC also welcomes written submissions for the record in this investigation. Written statements (one original and 14 copies) should be submitted at the earliest practical date but no later than 5:15 p.m. on June 6, 2001. All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection. Written submissions should be addressed to the Secretary, United States International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.

Further information on the scope of this investigation and appropriate submissions is available in the ITC's notice of investigation, dated November 20, 2000, which may be obtained from the ITC Internet site ( or by contacting the Office of the Secretary at the above address or at 202-205-1806.

ITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs or trade and are generally conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Senate Committee on Finance, or the House Committee on Ways and Means. The resulting reports convey the Commission's objective findings and independent analyses on the subjects investigated. The Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the ITC submits its findings and analyses to the requester. General factfinding investigation reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.

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