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March 21, 2005 

WTO Dispute Settlement Panel to Rule on U.S. Complaint Over Adminstration of E.U. Customs Laws

The World Trade Organization's Dispute Settlement Body today agreed to establish a Dispute Settlement Panel to rule on the U.S. complaint that the European Union fails to administer its customs laws in a uniform manner (Case No. DS315). The U.S. has alleged that the manner in which the E.U. administers its customs laws laws is not uniform, impartial or reasonable and is therefore inconsistent with Article X:3(a) of the GATT 1994. The U.S. has alleged that because the administration of E.U. customs laws is carried out by the national customs authorities of E.U. member states, such customs administration takes numerous different forms.

Specifically, the U.S. is concerned with the following E.U. customs matters:

*Classification and valuation of goods, including the provision of binding classification and valuation information to importers;

*Procedures for the entry and release of goods, including different certificate of origin requirements, different criteria among member States for the physical inspection of goods, different licensing requirements for importation of food products, and different procedures for processing express delivery shipments;

*Procedures for auditing entry statements after goods are released into the stream of commerce in the E.U.;

*Penalties and procedures regarding the imposition of penalties for violation of customs rules; and

*Record-keeping requirements.

A decision is expected to be issued by the Dispute Settlement Panel in approximately six months.


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