United States - Rules of Origin for Textiles and Apparel Products

Report of the Panel

On 11 January 2002, India requested consultations with the United States in respect of its rules of origin applicable to imports of textiles and apparel products as set out in Section 334 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, Section 405 of the Trade and Development Act of 2000 and the customs regulations implementing these provisions. India argued that, prior to the abovementioned Section 334, the rule of origin applicable to textiles and apparel products was the “substantial transformation” rule. India considered that Section 334 changed the system by identifying specific processing operations which would confer origin to the various types of textiles and apparel products. In India’s view, these changes appear to have been made to protect the United States textiles and clothing industry from import competition. India indicated that the changes introduced by Section 334 had already been challenged by the European Communities on the grounds that they were incompatible with the United States’ obligations under the Agreement on Rules of Origin and other WTO Agreements (WT/DS151). India explained that that dispute was settled through a procès-verbal whereby the United States agreed to introduce legislation amending Section 334. According to India, the changes introduced by the amending legislation, i.e. Section 405, were aimed at taking account of the particular export interests of the European Communities. India is of the view that the changes introduced by Sections 334 and 405 have resulted in extraordinary complex rules under which the criteria that confer origin vary between similar products and processing operations. India argued that the structure of the changes, the circumstances under which they were adopted and their effect on the conditions of competition for textiles and apparel products suggest that they serve trade policy purposes. On those grounds, India questioned the compatibility of those changes with paragraphs (b), (c), (d) and (e) of Article 2 of the Agreement on Rules of Origin.

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