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NBWA/USTR to battle GATT complaint.

NBWA/USTR to battle GATT complaint

Calling a Canadian complaint against U.S. beer marketing practices a "serious threat against the beer wholesaling industry," National Beer Wholesalers Assn. has agreed to a request by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to provide technical assistance in countering Canada's allegations.

The complaint, filed by Canada under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) alleges that the present federal excise tax structure and scores of state regulations concerning marketing practices and tax policy constitute a barrier to free and fair trade guaranteed by GATT provisions.

In a recent meeting between NBWA, the USTR and representatives from the Commerce department, USTR officials requested NBWA's assistance in identifying the individual state laws and regulations Canada claims are discriminatory. According to NBWA president Ron Sarasin, "We are ready and willing to take whatever steps are necessary and provide whatever information is needed to discredit Canada's complaints.

We will pay particular attention to those areas that we feel are an assault to the three-tier system and to wholesalers in particular."

The USTR invited the NBWA in for consultation after it was apparent that differences between the countries couldn't be resolved by negotiation.

At a regular GATT meeting, Canada is expected to request a panel be named to hold a compliance hearing, at which time three persons from GATT member nations will be appointed. A compliance meeting is expected in July, with a ruling possible as early as September, Sarasin said.

Should GATT find some state practices discriminatory, it will be incumbent upon the federal government to try and evoke changes in state laws.

"Our job is to rebut as many of the Canadian complaints as possible, but there is no doubt some practices will be found discriminatory," Sarasin explained. "Our job will then be to insure the changes the federal government seeks are fair to our members; and to protect the continued integrity of the three-tier system."
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Title Annotation:National Beer Wholesalers Assn.; United States Trade Representative; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; beer marketing practices
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Apr 22, 1991
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