Friday, December 21, 2012

Some trade-related news

. Friday, December 21, 2012

 Don’t forget the Farm Bill -- With all the talk about the fiscal cliff, some big trade-related legislation has taken a back seat.  In particular, this includes the U.S. Farm Bill, which (among other things) provides subsidies and insurance for farmers.   The current provisions are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, as new versions must be passed every five years.  As of now, no agreement has been reached, causing some concern among farmers (see here).  Potential sources of conflict abound . . . conflicts between two of our favorite snack food providers (see here), and between U.S. farmers and the WTO (see here).  [By the way, there have been rumblings about Farm Bill provisions being included in a fiscal cliff resolution package . . . if one is reached, of course]

Normalized trade relations between U.S. and Russia – See here.  [Some background as to why U.S.-Russia trade relations were not "normal":  The Jackson–Vanik Amendment to the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 restricted trade between the U.S. and a number of nonmarket economies.  Pursuant to the Amendment, most favored nation treatment would be denied to U.S. trade partners that violated certain human rights, e.g., imposed restrictions on emigration.  That said, it is worth noting that the President can (and has often) determined that annual waivers from Jackson-Vanik are appropriate.]
EU files submission in WTO Seal Disputehere.  To recap:  A while back, the EU implemented a regulation restricting the importation of seal products out of concern regarding “the animal welfare aspects of the seal hunt.”  Canada, a major producer of seal products, challenged the regulation as an unlawful restriction on trade, asserting that the EU’s measure was inconsistent with WTO obligations.  Although Canada’s complaint and the EU response raise a host of trade law issues, one interesting point concerns the potential application of GATT article XX.   Article XX(a) is a provision under which a party can argue that a restrictive trade measure is justified on the grounds that it is "necessary to protect public morals."  There is not a ton of jurisprudence on the issue, so a WTO ruling on this would be exciting (to the extent that legal rulings are ever “exciting”).  [Probably more on this later.]


Some trade-related news
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