A broad-based coalition of American agricultural groups today applauded President Clinton and Congress for enacting a trade bill that contains language which will make retaliation more effective against countries that violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, Chiquita Brands International, Hawaii Banana Growers Industry Association, and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said the "carousel retaliation" provision contained in "The Africa and Caribbean Basin Growth and Opportunity Act" will help the United States enforce its trade rights. The provision requires the U.S. government to rotate WTO-sanctioned retaliation against nations that refuse to comply with WTO rulings. This requirement, which originally had been introduced as a separate bill with bipartisan support from more than 100 Members of Congress and nearly 30 American agricultural groups, was incorporated into "The Africa and Caribbean Basin Growth and Opportunity Act."

Today's White House ceremony, during which President Clinton signed the trade bill into law, begins the 30-day period for revising the retaliation lists in the beef and banana disputes with Europe.

The agriculture coalition said:

"The European Union's illegal trade practices continue to hurt individual
U.S. cattle ranchers and agricultural businesses. 'Carousel' retaliation
is vital for every injured American industry that has won a WTO case, but
still suffers economic harm as a result of continuing illegal foreign
practices. This is a WTO-consistent approach that will help resolve
disputes, such as those with Europe over beef and banana imports, where
costs to U.S. interests mount because static retaliation has not worked.
It will also send a strong signal that the United States expects new and
existing WTO members to honor all of their WTO obligations. At a time
when WTO membership is expanding, this will help ensure the world trading
system works the way it was intended. We look forward to the Clinton
Administration's swift and effective implementation of 'carousel'
authority, consistent with Congress's direction."
Last year, the WTO ruled that EU trade practices regarding beef and banana imports were illegal and cost American agricultural interests more than $300 million annually in lost business. Despite WTO-sanctioned tariffs imposed by the United States in 1999, Europe has refused to bring its trade policies into compliance with international law.

By requiring periodic rotation of products targeted for retaliation, the "carousel" provision is intended to increase pressure on the EU and other countries to comply with WTO rules without changing the amount of retaliation being imposed.