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WTO will rule in Thai shrimp row

THAILAND - Thailand has filed its first submission against the United States with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute-settlement body, accusing Washington of unfair trade practices by slapping an anti-dumping duty on Thai shrimp.

The formal complaint was sent to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland, last week.

The WTO will open the opportunity for all parties to comment in early May, then it will call for a hearing of third-party opinions by the middle of May. The circulation of the final report is expected by November.

Thailand has argued that the US improperly calculates anti-dumping rates through a complicated procedure known as "zeroing". It also claims procedures for paying the levies resulted in the overcharging of exporters.

Although the US has called for the Thai government to separate the anti-dumping and zeroing disputes to the WTO, Thailand will move ahead on filing both petitions.

Washington has accepted that it will lose the "zeroing" case after WTO panels found that zeroing leads to artificial and inflated margins of dumping, and thus higher duties, Winichai Chaemchaeng, deputy director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said yesterday.

"The petition will take about 12 to 14 months to reach a final WTO judgement, with a positive signal that Thailand will win the case," he said.

If Bangkok prevails, Washington will be forced to cancel its current measures and other shrimp-exporting countries could benefit.

However, Thailand might find it difficult to force the US to cancel its unfair trade practice. The US might not follow the WTO's ruling and then Thailand has to take measures to hit back at the US unfair practice, Winichai said.

Source: The Nation

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