Belgium will have to fight a disputes case brought at the World Trade Organisation by the US, over its system of establishing import duties for rice. Washington has demanded the establishment of a disputes panel, claiming that Belgium has broken WTO trade rules by calculating duty on the basis of the cost of rice in the USA, rather then the price it was sold to Belgian importers. In a statement to the WTO secretariat, the USA also claimed that the Belgian authorities disclosed confidential information, which had been provided for customs valuation, and had failed to supply the importer with an explanation for its actions.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent