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Japan, Australia Complain to GATT Over U.S. Policies

October 14, 1987|From Reuters

GENEVA — Japan and Australia lodged public complaints against the United States on Tuesday over what they claimed were unfair trade practices, according to a spokesman for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Japan said a 100% tariff that Washington imposed on some Japanese electronic goods infringed provisions of the GATT, an international trade group of which Japan and the United States are members. The duties were imposed in April in retaliation for alleged Japanese violation of a bilateral agreement on trade in semiconductors.

Australia, a major farm products exporter, said a U.S. decision to increase farm export subsidies, announced July 30, also broke an agreement reached in GATT talks in Uruguay last year that such subsidies not be raised.

Australian Ambassador Alan Oxley said the U.S. announcement "has an ominous potential to create more instability and to invite further retaliation."

The United States has been a leading force in GATT in trying to break down tariff barriers further and in reducing subsidies. But, in the absence of agreement to do so, it has taken aggressive measures to counter what it sees as unfair trading practices by other nations.

The two complaints were lodged with GATT's surveillance body, which has no power to demand redress. GATT spokesman David Woods told reporters that the body exists to allow members to exert public political pressure on other members.

GATT has a formal disputes panel that can take action, but Japan and Australia have not made formal approaches to it.

The United States lifted some of the sanctions against Japan in June. Those affecting Australia are still in place.

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