W.T.O. gluten trade ruling for E.U. and U.S. still unsure

by Emily Wilson
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The dispute over European Union exports of wheat gluten to the U.S. heated up again recently when a World Trade Organization appellate body upheld parts of earlier findings that the U.S. acted illegally in imposing import quotas on E.U. wheat gluten.

In its Dec. 22 ruling, the appellate body both accepted and rejected parts of a U.S. appeal to a W.T.O. trade dispute panel decision in July that said the U.S. did not follow all W.T.O. procedures in implementing the import quotas in 1998.

The European Commission welcomed the appellate body's decision and reiterated earlier warnings that if the United States did not terminate the quotas, it would apply a tariff on U.S. corn gluten feed imports within five days of adoption of the appellate body's final report by the W.T.O. Dispute Settlement Body.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Wheat Gluten Industry Council petitioned the International Trade Commission to correct what were viewed as technicalities in its finding of injury to the domestic industry that led to the imposition of the import quotas. The I.T.C. has scheduled a Feb. 27 hearing to investigate whether the U.S. quota on imports of wheat gluten should be extended beyond the scheduled expiration next May.

The I.T.C. said its study would determine whether the import quota "continues to be necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury and whether the domestic industry is making a positive adjustment to import competition."