EU Deadline on Trade Sanctions ''Firm''
Calls to extend the March 1 deadline are rejected
BRUSSELS, Belgium - 02/01/04 - The European Union has rejected calls to extend its March 1 deadline for imposing trade sanctions on $4 billion worth of American goods in retaliation for US tax breaks to exporters.
"They will kick in on March 1 unless there is compliance on the US side," said EU trade spokeswoman Arancha Gonzalez.
According to the Associated Press, the EU has been authorized to impose the sanctions by the World Trade Organization that declared in 2002 that the US rules allowing thousands of firms to benefit from reduced export taxes violated international trade law.
Gonzalez said the EU had received indications that Washington would alter the rules before the deadline, despite calls from some US legislators for more time to enact the necessary chances to the complex tax law.
"We hope that compliance will take place by March 1," Gonzalez told reporters. "Compliance will mean that we don't impose sanctions and we put to bed this very old dispute. It's in the US hands."
The EU said last November that it would start applying a 5% tariff on the $4 billion of US goods from March 1 and increase it by 1% each month for a year, unless the tax breaks are eliminated.
The EU has intimated that it plans to target products including orange juice and textiles produced in states key to President Bush's re-election bid in November.
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