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Japan may join EU-US talks on Massa
- Subject: Japan may join EU-US talks on Massa
- From: sbillenness@xxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 08 Jul 1997 08:06:00
Subject: Japan may join EU-US talks on Massachusetts law against Burma
Japan may join EU-US talks on Massachusetts law against Burma
TOKYO, July 8 (AFP) - Japan may join the European Union in taking the
United States to the World Trade Organisation over a US state's sanctions
law against Burma, a Japanese trade official said Tuesday.
"We are considering taking part in the talks as a third country," said
the official in charge of international agreements at the ministry of
international trade and industry.
"Our status will not be equal to that of the United States or the EU. But
it may be close to that of an observer," he added.
The European Union (EU) decided last month to take its complaint about
the 1996 Massachusetts law to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The law bars state-owned entities from buying goods from companies doing
business in military-ruled Burma. That has led to the black-listing of
roughly 150 foreign companies.
"There is the possibility of the law violating the WTO provision on
government procurement," said the Japanese official.
"Depending on US action hereafter on the matter, we may consider taking
it to the WTO ourselves."
In January, the EU formally complained about the Massachusetts law, while
Japan registered its objections more quietly.
The EU claims the law violates a WTO provision committing most states to
open all government contracts to international competition.
"We have been getting information on the matter from the US side as the
federal government and the state of Massachusetts continue consultation," he
said. "It is not that the federal government can unilaterally force the
state to scrap the law."
In a letter to US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky last month, EU
Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan expressed displeasure at the lack of
progress made in the consultation.
"On this issue, it would not appear that progress has been made, and
there are no indications that Massachusetts is considering amending this
law, in spite of the efforts you have been making," he wrote.
Barshefsky replied in a statement she was "surprised and very
disappointed" at the European move, given the shared US and European
interest in improving the human rights situation in Burma.