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Daily News

February 21, 2006

World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy last week insisted that a Doha round deal as it is shaping up now will likely be more substantive than the Uruguay Round even though it will allow developing countries to protect certain items from formula cuts as special products.

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EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson will begin two days of talks in Washington with U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman today (Feb. 21). The talks, which will focus on the Doha round according to European government sources, will wrap up tomorrow.

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February 14, 2006

The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee today (Feb. 14) said the 2007 farm bill should be written to fit the general framework of a new World Trade Organization agreement regardless of whether the current Doha round of talks is finished by the end of this year. This puts Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) at odds with the American Farm Bureau Federation, which in January approved policy calling for the 2002 farm bill to be extended unless negotiators complete the Doha talks.

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February 13, 2006

The U.S. urged the European Union today (Feb. 13) not to re-impose trade sanctions after the World Trade Organization Appellate Body ruled the U.S. had failed to implement an adverse panel decision that found certain U.S. business tax breaks were prohibited export subsidies. The EU announced it would re-impose a 14 percent duty on $4 billion in U.S. exports unless a solution is reached in the next three months.

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February 07, 2006

The European Union is expected this month to again ask the World Trade Organization to establish a second dispute settlement panel to consider additional U.S. supports to its large civil aircraft manufacturer, Boeing. A Geneva source confirmed today (Feb. 7) that the EU would make its second request at the Feb. 17 meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body.

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U.S. and Colombian negotiators on Feb. 3 ended more than a week of negotiations on key provisions of a free trade agreement with the plan to resume negotiations on Feb. 14 to wrap up the outstanding issues in agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary rules, intellectual property and textiles and conclude a deal.

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U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman today (Feb. 7) held open the possibility that the U.S. would reconsider continuing formal negotiations with members of the Southern African Customs Union over those countries’ failure to agree to the scope of a deal.

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A World Trade Organization panel ruled today (Feb. 7) that the European Union and six of its member states violated international trade rules by imposing a ban on the import of agricultural products and food containing genetically modified organisms, a U.S. trade official said.

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February 03, 2006

The U.S. and Colombia ended more than a week of negotiations today (Feb. 3) without a deal on a free trade agreement. They agreed to resume talks on Feb. 14 to address outstanding issues on sanitary and phytosanitary issues, agriculture, intellectual property protection and textiles.

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January 31, 2006

Agriculture advisors appointed by the Bush Administration to give advice on trade issues face a deadline this week for a report evaluating the Peru-U.S. free trade agreement even though they have yet to see text of the deal, according to informed sources.

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The secretariat of the World Trade Organization has delayed to Feb. 7 the release of an interim panel report on the U.S. challenge of European Union approvals of genetically modified organisms. U.S. officials last week said they expected the interim report on Feb. 1.

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January 25, 2006

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Max Baucus (D-MT) today said the Bush Administration has informed him that it will launch negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with Korea. He said he expected the Bush Administration to make an announcement “soon,” possibly around the time of the State of the Union scheduled for Jan. 31.

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January 23, 2006

In the latest sign that the U.S. and Korea are close to announcing negotiations on a free trade agreement, Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Trade last week announced plans for a public hearing on a U.S.-Korea FTA for Feb. 2, according to informed sources.

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Completion of a U.S.-Panama free trade agreement hinges on resolving a fight over U.S. demands that Panama immediately accept agricultural shipments from U.S. plants that have been inspected and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to private-sector sources. Panama argues it should only have to accept shipments once its own authorities have inspected and approved U.S. processing plants.

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January 20, 2006

Japan has once again closed its borders to U.S. beef after the discovery of a U.S. shipment that included beef with spine, according to a statement today (Jan. 20) from two Japanese ministries.

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U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman today (Jan. 20) said he is hopeful the U.S. will soon announce the launching of free trade negotiations with Korea and Malaysia, but signaled no such announcement is imminent for Egypt. Portman also said he is not optimistic on a Swiss FTA because it is not clear whether the two sides can agree on the necessary agriculture concessions.

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January 13, 2006

Following a week-long negotiation that fell short of U.S. goals and was marred by Thai protests, the U.S. chief negotiator said today (Jan. 13) that the Bush Administration needs to reevaluate efforts to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Thailand, including whether a spring deadline for concluding the negotiations needs to be pushed back. But Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia Barbara Weisel also held open the possibility that this assessment would include the option of ending the negotiations.

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January 09, 2006

Everett Eissenstat, the chief international trade counsel for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), is leaving the committee for a position with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, according to private sector sources.

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January 03, 2006

In the world of trade, 2005 certainly went out with a whimper and not a bang.

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December 30, 2005

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will likely announce today (Dec. 30) that it is unable to meet its target date of Jan. 1, 2006 for implementing a free trade agreement with any of the six Central American countries that signed it, according to a USTR spokesman.

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