ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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WTO Agreement on Anti-Dumping

Developed countries such as US, EC and Canada are unlikely to agree to review and modification of the WTO Agreement on antidumping. So it is for the developing countries to put up a combined front and press for review. Japan may support their cause at this juncture having been subject to some severe anti-dumping action recently.

Did India Give the World Its First Customs Tariff?

A closer examination of Kautilya's 2,300-year old treatise, the Arthasastra for an understanding of the tax structure of the day reveals interesting parallels with currently prescribed valuation principles and practices.

Protectionism vs Unfair Trade in Steel

Suddenly everyone seems to have forgotten the theory of competitive advantage and the benefits of free trade. Practically every country is accusing the rest of the world of dumping steel in its backyard and trying to protect its steel industry, backtracking on free trade promises. Perhaps this is the right time to call a halt to the protectionist trend and start a fresh round of discussions for a Multilateral Steel Agreement which would ensure some order in steel trading.

US-EU Trade War over Bananas

benefit in inciting violence on a large scale. Even so. the communal incidents reported above should cause concern. Communal feelings are being kept alive and major incidents can be provoked whenever these communal parties find it in their political interests to do so. Also, BJP rule at the centre and in some states has emboldened members of VHP and Bajrang Dal to terrorise minority communities. It was during this year that Christians came under systematic attack US-EU Trade War over Bananas C Satapathy INDIA is the largest producer of bananas in the world and accounted for 9.5 million tonnes out of the world production of 54.5 million tonnes in 1995 according to FAO. The US and the European Union (EU) are the largest importers of bananas. Their imports were 3.7 and 3.5 million tonnes, respectively, in 1994 according to FAO and EUROSTAT. Sadly, India's exports of bananas to the US and the European countries are not much. As per trade statistics published by DGCI and S, India exported a meagre 27.7 tonnes to the US. 17.4 tonnes to the UK and 42 tonnes to Germany in 1996-97. As such, India has no direct interest in the current banana trade war raging between the US and the EU, but its significance in the context of multilateral trading arrangements should not be lost. Moreover, the recent showdown between the US and the EU stemming from the disputed banana regime of the latter could not have come at a worse time. The meltdown in the emerging economies in Asia, a near collapsed economy in Russia, the Japanese economy shrinking, and economic gloom spreading to large parts of the western world have all contributed to put the global trading system under great strain. While the emerging economies sec a way out of the crisis through more exports, the developed countries feel threatened by cheaper imports. Suddenly protectionism is on the increase and many are questioning the merits of globalisation. This is a time that by the saffron family, particularly in Gujarat where the BJP is in power The VHP and the Bajrang Dal are acting as if it is an unbridled Hindu Raj, No wonder then that in the recent state elections the minorities, particularly Muslims, rallied round the Congress again from which they were alienated after the demolition of Babri masjid. If such communal incidents, as in Gujarat, continue more Muslims and Christians would rally round the Congress which may be revived even in states like the UP and Bihar.

Law for Computer Misuse and Data Protection

of contributing to political instability that in turn could exacerbate capital flight in the months to come. Global opinion-makers do not seem to back either of the moves. The president, vice-president and treasury secretary of the US, president of the World Bank, managing director of IMF and several others of the free market persuasion have joined the chorus of disapproval. Within the region too there is a feeling that the currency controls would have an adverse impact on the economies with trading and financial links with Malaysia since some see the country's policy as of the beggar-thy-neighbour variety.

Rules of Origin New Weapon against Free Trade in Textiles

Free Trade in Textiles? C Satapathy Trade restrictive rules of origin are being proposed under the WTO dispensation which are likely to become additional instruments in the hands of the 'big boys' to impede textile exports from the developing countries.

Rules of Origin A Necessary Evil

C Satapathy IN the course of the Uruguay Round Multilateral Trade Negotiations, full agreement was reached at least on two non- tariff measures, one of them being the Rules of Origin. Initially there was considerable disagreement over whether Rules of Origin were necessary at all and what they should cover. Finally it was agreed to formulate some general principles pending formulation of harmonised Rules of Origin and to apply them to non-preferen- tial trade. Besides, an understanding was reached to apply the basic principles to preferential trade also. It was recognised that harmonisation of Rules of Origin would be a highly technical task, accomplishment of which could not fit into the time frame of the Uruguay Round. It was, therefore, agreed to embark on a three- year work programme after the conclusion of the Uruguay RoundConsidering the fact that the customs co-operation council, since renamed as the World Customs Organisation (WCO), had earlier evolved a harmonised system of tariff classification of internationally traded goods, it was also agreed to enlist its co-operation for evolving a set of harmonised Rules of Origin, These decisions were built into the Agreement on Rules of Origin (ARO) which is one of the multilateral agreements on trade in goods forming part of the Annex IA to the WTO Agreement [WTO 1997]. Two committees were established by the ARO the Committee on Rules of Origin (CRO) at the headquarters of WTO at Geneva and the Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (TCRO) at the headquarters of WCO at Brussels. All WTO members are members of these two committees. International organisations like UN. ILO, ICC, etc, as well as non- member countries like China are observers to these committees without voting rights. All decisions of these committees are to be based on consensus only.

Legal Framework for E-Commerce

SUBSEQUENT lo publication of the article on 'Taxing Electronic Commerce' (EPW, May 9, 1998, p 1068), two major developments have taken place. Firstly, the US proposal to keep 'electronic transmissions' customs duty-free for all time to come did not receive unanimous support in the last G-8 meeting. Secondly, the second WTO Ministerial Conference at Geneva, which followed the G-8 meeting in May 1998, authorised a comprehensive work programme to examine all trade-related issues relating to global electronic commerce. It also declared that WTO members would "continue the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions", the extension of which will be decided next year by consensus while reviewing this declaration. It is hoped that during the year, the member countries will not only address the complex issues involved in taxing e-commerce hut will also find ways to remove several hurdles, technological and legal, that it faces. It is proposed to highlight some of the latter in this short paper.

Taxing Electronic Commerce

C Satapathy THE US and the European Union have reached an agreement on December 5, 1997 "to work towards a global understanding that (i) when-goods are ordered electronically but delivered physically, there will be no additional import duties in relation to the use of electronic means; and (ii) in all other cases relating electronic commerce, the absence of duties on imports should remain". Subsequently, on February 19, 1998, the US has presented a market access proposal to the WTO General Council calling for agreement among WTO members to maintain "current practices not to impose duties on electronic transmissions". The US proposal obviously presupposes that no government considers electronic transmissions to be importations for customs duty purposes and suggests that such dutyfree status should be maintained in the future also. Moreover, the US proposal treats all electronic transmissions alike irrespective of their content. It is clear that both the initiatives are meant for securing a completely duty. free environment for all electronic transmissions.

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