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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
WTO criticises US trade policies
US border sign
The WTO has criticised US import quotas
The World Trade Organisation has issued the US with a mixed report card for its trade policies, praising its open and transparent economy but criticising "significant barriers to market access".

Initiations of investigations may have a chilling effect on trade, with preliminary duties applied in most cases

The regular review of US trade policies by the WTO, and its 142 members, called for reductions in trade barriers that it claimed were distorting global markets.

Many members also accused the world's largest economy of using anti-dumping cases as "export harassment".

"Initiations of investigations may have a chilling effect on trade, with preliminary duties applied in most cases," the WTO review said.

WTO praise

However, the review praised the US telecoms sector, the world's largest, as "one of the most open and competitive".

Container ship unloading in the US
The WTO has called for a reduction in import barriers

Liberalisation of the services sector was "beyond commitments undertaken by the US", the WTO said.

"The US is recognised by and large as an open and transparent economy," said Clement Boonekamp, head of the WTO's trade policy review.

"However, it was made clear by nearly everyone that there are still features of the regime that are a cause of significant concern to members."

The review highlighted "significant barriers to market access" in agriculture and textiles, which are of particular concern for developing economies, as well as in the steel and marine transport sectors.

The size and strength of the US economy "directly affect global trade", the report said.

The WTO, which regulates the rules for global trade, found that while the US demanded subsidy reductions internationally, it had tripled payouts to its domestic agricultural and food producers between 1997 and 2000.

The US made $30bn in direct payments to farmers last year, the WTO said.

Anti-dumping cases

With a sharp increase in the number of cases brought against the US between 1998 and 2000, the review criticized US anti-dumping measures, many of them involving steel products.

But the WTO said the US was seeking to take multilateral steps to correct excess capacity and prop up the ailing steel industry.

The review reported that quotas still restrict over half of the all clothing imports and a third of textile imports, and that 1,000 quotas are applied to 45 countries, including 37 WTO members.

US trading partners also expressed concern over the number of restrictions due to national security and foreign policy reasons, "particularly because of the unilateral nature of certain such measures".

More than 30 countries were targeted for reasons ranging from terrorism and arms control to workers rights.

See also:

17 Sep 01 | Business
China enters WTO fold
20 Aug 01 | Business
Europe beats US in WTO dispute
03 Sep 01 | Business
New hope for WTO trade talks
24 Jul 01 | Business
US trade policy sparks complaint
31 Aug 01 | Business
US steelmakers stoke trade war
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