1998 International Law Update, Volume 4, Number 1 (January).
ACT OF STATE DOCTRINE
In action by victims of human rights violations to levy on assets of former Philippine dictator, Ninth Circuit dismisses because requested interference with Swiss freeze of Marcos assets would violate Act of State Doctrine
In a Multi-District Litigation [Case No. 840 (D. Hawaii)], 9,539 victims of human rights violations in the Philippines won a $1,964,005,859.90 award against the Estate of Ferdinand Marcos. The judgment enjoined the Estate and its agents from transferring any funds pending satisfaction of the judgment.
The plaintiffs then registered their judgment in the Central District of California and served notices of levy on the California offices of Credit Suisse and Swiss Bank Corp. (jointly “Credit Suisse”), incorporated and headquartered in Switzerland. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the post-judgment enforcement must comply with California law. This required “personal service” at the Swiss office where the bank carried the account. The plaintiffs then filed an action in California district court directly against Credit Suisse, seeking to enjoin any transfer on behalf of the Marcos Estate (the "Rosales action"). Credit Suisse unsuccessfully argued in district court that the Rosales action violated the Act of State Doctrine. It then petitioned the Court of Appeals for a writ of mandamus to dismiss the case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit grants the petition to dismiss the Rosales action on Act of State grounds. The Act of State Doctrine bars an action if (1) there is an official act of a foreign sovereign performed within its own territory, and (2) the relief sought or the defense interposed in the action would require a U.S. court to invalidate the foreign sovereign’s official act.
First, the Swiss Federal Council, the governing body of the Swiss Executive Branch, had frozen Marcos’ Swiss assets in 1986. The Cantons where Marcos’ assets are held -- Geneva, Fribourg and Zürich -- later issued cantonal freeze orders that superseded the federal freeze and remain in effect today. These acts are clearly official acts of a foreign sovereign performed within its own territory.
Second, the injunction sought by the plaintiffs would compel Credit Suisse to subject Marcos’ assets to the district court’s orders, even though Swiss orders have kept the assets frozen. Therefore, subjecting the frozen assets to U.S. court orders would allow a U.S. court to question and, in fact, declare invalid the official act of a foreign sovereign. The writ of mandamus directs the district court to dismiss the case and to refrain from taking further action regarding the Marcos Estate.
Citation: Credit Suisse v. U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 97-70193 (9th Cir. December 3, 1997).
Second Circuit enforces clause requiring arbitration in Italy because plaintiff failed to show specifically that defendants had fraudulently induced plaintiff to accept arbitration abroad
In 1974, Saporiti Italia S.p.A. signed an agreement with Campaniello Imports, Ltd. under which the latter would act as the exclusive North American distributor for the former's furniture. Business went well until the 1990s. By January 1994, however, Saporiti fell upon hard times and went into liquidation in Italy. Two months later, Campaniello filed a fraud and breach of contract suit against Saporiti in New York federal court. The suit sought compensatory and punitive damages. Saporiti then petitioned the local Italian tribunal for a Concordato Preventivo, a mode of relief under Italian law similar to Chapter 11 restructuring under U.S. law. The Tribunal authorized another Italian furniture company, Gidatex S.R.L., to see if it could take over Saporiti operations for ten months. This might keep Saporiti afloat so as to elude final liquidation.
Gidatex then proposed to Campaniello an agreement whereby the latter could remain a Saporiti distributor for ten months if it dismissed its New York lawsuit. The two sides met in Italy and finalized this “Gidatex” agreement in June 1994. In July the parties finalized a separate “Settlement Agreement” under which Campaniello would drop its U.S. law suit “with prejudice.” The Italian provincial court approved it. The parties then amended the Gidatex agreement to fine tune the business relationships. The amendments contained the following arbitration-in-Italy clause that said: “any controversy between the two parties regarding the above agreement will be resolved by arbitration.” The agreement, however, did not work out and, in April 1995, Gidatex gave notice of termination to Campaniello.
In September 1995, Campaniello filed the instant action in New York federal court, alleging that Gidatex had fraudulently induced them to enter into the Settlement Agreement. It sought rescission and damages. Defendants moved to dismiss, inter alia, on the grounds that the agreement demanded arbitration of contract disputes. The district court granted the motion.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirms. The Court first examines whether the parties had actually agreed to arbitrate and, secondly, whether the scope of the agreement included the claims asserted below. Though plaintiff admits the presence of the clause, it contends that defendants had fraudulently induced plaintiff to enter into the contract that bore it. Citing Prima Paint Corp. v. Flood & Conklin Mfg. Co., 388 U.S. 395, 403‑04 (1967), the Court points out that plaintiff must show that the alleged fraud went fairly specifically to the arbitration clause and not merely to the contract as a whole. As to this, plaintiffs argued that part of the fraud was to make sure that contract disputes would not go before the American courts with its wider range of remedies but to the Italian arbitrator. The Court, however, rejects plaintiff’s effort as one to metamorphose general contract fraud into arbitration fraud.
“In Prima Paint, the Supreme Court clearly distinguished between fraud in the inducement of the arbitration clause itself, which may be considered by the federal court, and fraud in the inducement of the contract generally. This distinction would be eviscerated if a claimant could transform a general fraud claim into fraud in the inducement of the arbitration clause merely by stating that the arbitration clause is an element of the scheme to defraud. This fact becomes evident if one considers the evidentiary trial that would have to be conducted in this case to determine if there was fraud in the inducement of the arbitration clause. Since there is no fraud or misrepresentation that relates directly to the arbitration clause, the District Court would have to determine whether the appellees defrauded appellants into settling their case and accepting a sham contract with an arbitration clause; in short, the District Court would have to adjudicate the entire fraud claim. Similarly, in every instance where there is a fraud going to the contract generally and an allegation that the arbitration clause was ‘part of the scheme to defraud,’ the court would have to adjudicate the entire scheme to defraud. Consequently, there would never be an instance where a claim of fraud going to a contract generally would be sent to arbitration by a federal court.” 
Citation: Campaniello Imports Ltd. v. Saporiti Italia S.P.A., 117 F.3d 655 (2d Cir. 1997).
CHOICE OF LAW
In litigation over Saskatchewan accident, British Columbia Court of Appeal retrospectively applies later Canadian Supreme Court ruling that statutes of limitations were no longer "procedural" for choice-of-law purposes
In Saskatchewan, Ms. Stewart, a resident of British Columbia was injured in May 1993 while riding as a passenger with her father, Daniel Stewart, in a company car. Fifteen months later, she sued her father and the corporate owner in a B.C. court. Both defendants "resided" in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan law provided for a one‑year limitation period in tort cases, but B.C. law had a two‑year period. As the law stood in May 1993 and in October, 1994, when plaintiff filed her suit, the B.C. courts were entitled to apply their longer limitation period. The theory was that the statute constituted a "procedural" matter in which the forum can apply its own law.
In December, 1994, however, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down Tolofson v. Jensen,  3 S.C.R. 1022, 100 B.C.L.R. (2d) 1, 120 D.L.R. (4th) 289. Tolofson held (1) that, in multijurisdictional tort cases, the substantive law of the place of the wrong (lex loci delicti) governed, and (2) that courts should classify limitation periods as "substantive."
Plaintiff, however, relied upon § 13 of the B.C. Limitation Act. It said that, if the law of a jurisdiction other than B.C. is applicable and if private international law would classify the limitation law of that jurisdiction as procedural, the B.C. court has two options. It may apply its own limitation law or it may apply the limitation law of the other jurisdiction if this produces a more just result. After unsuccessfully moving to dismiss the action on the ground that Saskatchewan law barred the action, defendants took an appeal.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal allows the appeal. In the Court's view, § 13 did not apply. In light of Tolofson, the B.C. courts could no longer characterize the Saskatchewan limitation law as "procedural." In Canadian jurisprudence, judicial decisions are usually retrospective in effect. The theory is that when a court overrules prior decisions, it does not change the law. Rather, it merely reveals the true law as it always existed and corrects past errors. As Blackstone indicates, it is not that the overturned law was bad; it was not law at all. Thus, the Saskatchewan limitation period barred the action although plaintiff had filed her suit relying upon the legal regime that existed before Tolofson.
Citation: Stewart v. Stewart, 145 D.L.R.4th 228 (B.C.C.A. 1997).
In case of first impression, First Circuit approves admission of English deposition of prosecution witness as evidence against accused despite claim of incompatibility with Confrontation Clause
David McKeeve and his business partner, both UK citizens, ran a Scottish company through which they acquired U.S. computer equipment for the Libyan Government. Even though McKeeve was aware of the U.S. restrictions on trade with Libya, he bought the equipment in Massachusetts. The U.S. Customs Service held the shipment at port though “Cyprus” was the stated destination. It is allegedly a notorious clearinghouse for goods being shipped to embargoed countries.
McKeeve was convicted of violating the International Emergency and Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) [50 U.S.C. §§ 1701-1706 (1994)] and related Executive Orders and regulations. His conviction rested in part on the deposition testimony of Alex Redpath, the British shipping agent, taken in the UK. Redpath testified that McKeeve had told him to forward the computer equipment from Cyprus to Libya. McKeeve’s main argument on appeal was that use of the foreign deposition against him had violated the Confrontation Clause.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirms. Redpath had given his deposition before a British magistrate in a Court in Birmingham, England. McKeeve monitored the proceedings through a live telephone link. A solicitor prepared a transcript of the deposition.
“When the government conducts a [Fed.R.Crim.P.] Rule 15 deposition in a foreign land with a view toward introducing it at trial, the Confrontation Clause requires, at a minimum, that the government undertake diligent efforts to facilitate the defendant’s presence. ... We caution, however, that although such efforts must be undertaken in good faith, they need not be heroic, and the possibility of using a deposition does not evaporate even if those efforts prove fruitless. In that event the district court must determine, on a case-specific basis, whether reasonable alternative measures can preserve adequately the values that underpin the defendant’s confrontation rights. In cases where actions by, or the laws of, a foreign nation effectively preclude the defendant’s presence, furnishing the defendant with the capability for live monitoring of the deposition, as well as a separate (private) telephone line for consultation with counsel, usually will satisfy the demands of the Confrontation Clause.” [slip op., 12-13]
Such extrajudicial statements are admissible as long as they possess sufficient indicia of reliability. Fed.R.Evid. 804(b)(1) provides a hearsay exception for the former testimony of an unavailable witness. Based on this “firmly-rooted” hearsay exception, the Court finds no violation of the Confrontation Clause by admitting the foreign deposition testimony. To pass muster under Rule 804(b)(1), the witness must be unavailable, and the deposition must constitute former testimony.
“The standard test for unavailability is whether the witness’s attendance could be procured ‘by process or other reasonable means.’ Fed.R.Evid. 804(a)(5). In a criminal context, however, Confrontation Clause concerns color the Rule 804 availability inquiry and heighten the government’s burden. ... Thus, the prosecution must actively attempt to secure the witness’s presence at trial. ... Here, ... the government made an assiduous effort to convince Redpath to attend the trial ... The remaining question is whether Redpath’s deposition amounted to ‘former testimony’ within the purview of Fed.R.Evid. 804(b)(1). ... To be sure, the deposition did not comport in all respects with American practice, but that circumstance alone does not render the testimony not ‘in compliance with law’ and therefore beyond the reach of Rule 804(b)(1). ... ‘[U]nless the manner of examination required by the law of the host nation is so incompatible with our fundamental principles of fairness or so prone to inaccuracy or bias as to render the testimony inherently unreliable, ... a deposition taken ... in accordance with the law of the host nation is taken ‘in compliance with law’ for purposes of Rule 804(b)(1).’” [slip op., 16-18]
Among the indicia of reliability cited by the Court are the administration of the oath, oversight by a judicial officer, unlimited direct and cross-examination, as well as linguistic compatibility.
Citation: United States v. McKeeve, No. 96-2273 (1st Cir. December 5, 1997).
In prosecution for exports of banned U.S. technologies to Libya, Second Circuit holds that Malta Customs documents are inadmissible under exceptions to hearsay rule if government did not follow procedure for admission of foreign documents under 1984 Crime Control Act
A federal jury convicted Thomas Doyle and Robert Vance of illegally exporting fuel pumps to Libya. They appeal their convictions for conspiracy and selling U.S. equipment to Libya in violation of the trade embargo against Libya [International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. §§ 1701, 1702, 1705(b); 31 C.F.R. Part 550].
The background facts are as follows. A 1986 Executive Order of the U.S. President [Exec. Order No. 12,543, 51 Federal Register 875 (1986)] prohibited trade with Libya. Libya’s national oil company nevertheless sought to purchase spare parts for American-made oil field technologies. Doyle, who had connections within U.S. army intelligence, and his nephew Vance, sold fuel pumps and other parts to a German company, declaring them as "auto spares" in the shipping papers. The German company, in turn, sold them to Libya. Some of the items were shipped to Libya with a stopover in Malta.
The U.S. Government requested, and the district court issued, international letters rogatory to the Maltese government as part of the investigation. One letter asked for official Maltese records dealing with the defendants' shipments of fuel pumps to Libya. In response, a Maltese government official signed and certified several customs documents as authentic. The Malta Customs Department had generated some of the documents. Private companies had filed others with the Department. A Senior Malta Customs Official appended a sworn statement of authenticity. The U.S. Consul on Malta received and transmitted the documents to U.S authorities. The government introduced them as "foreign government public documents" at trial.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reverses and remands because of erroneous instructions to the jury. The Court, however, also discusses various evidentiary issues in its opinion.
The Appellants challenge, among other things, the admission of the Malta Customs documents as authentic under Federal Rule of Evidence 902(3) [self-authentication of government records]. They particularly object to the documents generated by private parties and filed with the Malta Customs Department. Their complaint was (1) that Rule 902(3) applied only to the authentication of government documents, and (2) that the documents were also hearsay.
The Court explains. "The requirement that the document be 'certified as correct' means only that the authenticating official certify that the copy delivered to the court is an accurate copy of the government record. To satisfy Rule 903, the official does not need to attest to the truth or trustworthiness of the facts contained in the document; accuracy of its contents is the concern of other Federal Rules, such as the many rules concerning hearsay in Rules 801, et seq. The only concern of Rules 901, et seq. is assuring that evidence is what it purports to be. The certification of the Maltese officials was clearly adequate to show that these were the records of the Customs Department. We therefore rule that all documents delivered to the district court by Malta were properly self-authenticated pursuant to Rule 903(3) and (4)." [71-72]
As for the hearsay issue, the documents could be admissible under Rule 803(6), the hearsay exceptions for business records, or Rule 803(8), the exception for government records. The government did not lay a proper foundation, however, for the business records provision. For example, the Maltese Senior Customs Official could not testify as to the record-keeping practices of the private businesses involved.
The Rule 803(8) question is a closer one. "Rule 803(8)(B) can encompass statements of non-governmental parties who act as agents for the government under duties imposed by law. ... The Senior Inspector's sworn statement stated that the documents he delivered 'set forth matters which are required by the laws of Malta to be recorded and filed.' In this case, however, there was no showing of procedures that assure the documents are reliable, of any standards applied to the recordation of the documents, or of any monitoring by Malta of their accuracy. Malta may, in some fashion, punish the making of false statements to the customs agency, but the Government has pointed us to no authority saying that it does so. Furthermore, we doubt that a legal 'request' for filing records with a government agency would alone qualify the records for the hearsay exception without some showing that the records were reliable, such as a showing that the private party was acting as an agent of the government." [slip op., 77-78]
[The Crime Control Act of 1984 sets forth a procedure for establishing a foundation for foreign documents for purposes of complying with the business records exception. The Government, however, did not provide a foreign certification based on the Act, and did not notify the Appellants or the court of its intention to rely on this procedure.]
The Court concludes that the admission of privately-generated, business records without further foundation, even though in the possession of a foreign government agency, is improper. If there is other evidence that the documents recorded with the Maltese Customs Department are verified or otherwise reliable, they may be admissible.
Citation: United States v. Doyle, No. 96-1542 (2d Cir., December 4, 1997).
ICSID panel rules in favor of U.S. corporation and awards it $9,000,000 in its claim that soldiers of Zaire had looted and destroyed one of its local manufacturing complexes
In January 1993, American Manufacturing & Trading, Inc. (AMT), a Delaware corporation, began a proceeding against the Republic of Zaire in the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). It alleged that Zaire had breached AMT's rights under a 1984 U.S.‑Zaire bilateral investment treaty (BIT). According to AMT, Zaire failed to compensate AMT for property damage and losses caused by elements of Zaire's armed forces in September 1991 and January 1993.
AMT claimed that, on two occasions, Zaire soldiers destroyed property in a local industrial complex run by SINZA, S.P.R.L. AMT owned 94% of SINZA stock. The complex had been producing automotive and dry cell batteries. Specifically, the soldiers broke into the complex and demolished it. They then hauled away all finished goods, nearly all raw materials and other valuable objects. After the second set of incursions, AMT had to shut the SINZA complex down permanently. AMT sought $14,300,000 as the fair market value of its losses, reimbursement for loss of profits (lucrum cessans), 8% interest and the costs of the arbitral proceedings. The Centre appointed three arbitrators to the panel.
Zaire did not disavow the damages nor did it appear at the oral hearing. Instead, it contended that the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction and that the AMT claim was inadmissible for several procedural reasons. For example, Zaire questioned whether there was a legal dispute (ratione materiae); whether there was a controversy between a State and a national of another State (ratione personae); and whether both of the Parties have consented (ratione voluntatis). Zaire also contended that the most‑favored‑nation and national-treatment provisions excused it from paying damages to AMT and that Zaire domestic law, that bars claims like AMT's, preempts the BIT. The Tribunal rebuffed all of Zaire's reasoning.
The Tribunal ultimately ruled for AMT and entered an award for $ 9,000,000 along with 7.5% overdue interest after 60 days and $ 104,828 to cover one half of costs advanced by AMT.
Citation: American Manufacturing & Trading, Inc. v. Republic of Zaire, ICSID Case Arb/93/1, released February 21, 1997, 36 I.L.M. 1531. [According to an I.L.M. editorial note: " [t]his is the first award ever given under the law of a bilateral investment treaty to which the United States is a contracting party."]
Despite major efforts of plaintiffs and Minnesota Court in complex tobacco litigation to develop requests for oral testimony abroad that comply with English law, English Court of Appeal concludes that they fail to pass muster
The State of Minnesota and that state's Blue Cross and Blue Shield filed suit in a Minnesota state court against a number of tobacco companies including British-American Tobacco Company (BAT) and its associated companies. The complex action sought substantial damages to compensate plaintiffs for the expenses of treating tobacco-related diseases. It also asked for punitive damages because of defendants' conspiracy to cover up evidence of the addictive nature of tobacco and of the lethal nature of cigarettes. The English companies denied liability and also the jurisdiction of the Minnesota courts.
At plaintiffs' behest, the state judge issued a request for the taking of testimony by videotape in England from four former high officials of BAT, not for pretrial discovery purposes but for use at the trial. On July 8, 1997 an English trial judge narrowed the request considerably and then ordered the witnesses to testify. He acted pursuant to the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act of 1975 which had implemented the Hague Evidence Convention. From this order, defendants appealed. The English Court of Appeal (Civil Division) allows the appeal.
In his opinion, Lord Woolf, Master of the Rolls, first points out that traditional oral discovery American style, especially of non-parties, is far broader than that allowed in the U.K. Although the 1975 Evidence Act does not let English courts help American courts to carry out pretrial "discovery" in the sense of a "fishing expedition," the present matter involves a request for admissible trial evidence.
In that context, English courts describe "fishing" as amounting to "a roving inquiry, by means of the examination and cross‑examination of witnesses, which is not designed to establish by means of their evidence allegations of fact which have been raised bona fide with adequate particulars, but to obtain information which may lead to obtaining evidence in general support of a party's case."
Noting that the inquiry extends back 40 years, Lord Woolf concludes that the 1975 Act does not authorize international judicial cooperation here. Excessively "wide and uncertain" requests remain despite the American court's conscientious efforts and the lower court's pruning actions. It is unfair to disable the witnesses from being able to get ready to respond and from protecting themselves against irrelevant inquiries.
Judge Gibson agrees. Quoting from the Minnesota rules, he stresses the pervasive use of costly oral depositions in American practice in contrast with English procedure. Though plaintiffs did try to designate the documents to which they would refer the witnesses, there were literally millions of potential documents to ask about. This made the designation task impracticable and of little or no help to the witnesses. Nor could or should the English judge try to "blue pencil" the request to make it acceptable.
Judge Otton essentially concurs with the above reasoning.
Citation: State of Minnesota v. Philip Morris Inc., 30 July 1997 [Ct. App. (Civ. Div.)] [Transcript: Smith Bernal].
New Jersey federal court dismisses injury suit against Italian hotel company for lack of general jurisdiction over it based merely upon state citizens’ access to its internet site
Itajolly Compagnia Italiana Dei Jolly Hotels operates 32 hotels in Italy as an Italian subsidiary of Jolly Hotels, Inc. It had an arrangement to make available to Grand Circle Travel certain rooms in the Jolly Diodoro Hotel in Taormina, Sicily. Eileen Weber was a frequent user of GCT and, in 1994, used it to book several hotels in Italy including the Jolly Diodoro.
On December 7, 1994, Weber fell and injured herself in that hotel and filed suit against Itajolly and Jolly Hotels in New Jersey state court. She claimed that defendant Itajolly should have known of the dangerous condition that led to her fall. Defendants removed it to federal court based on diversity of citizenship. Itajolly moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over it. The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey grants the motion.
The Court finds that defendant does not personally conduct any business in New Jersey. It does, however, have a web site on the Internet. The site provides photographs of hotel rooms, summaries of hotel facilities, as well as data about numbers of rooms and telephone numbers. Plaintiff argued there was “general” jurisdiction in that the web site constituted advertising and hence doing business in New Jersey. The Court sees no merit in this argument.
The Court divides the cases dealing with this issue into three categories. “The first category includes cases where defendants actively do business on the Internet. In those instances, personal jurisdiction is found because defendants ‘enter into contracts with residents of a foreign jurisdiction that involve the knowing and repeated transmission of computer files over the Internet.’ The second category deals with situations ‘where a user can exchange information with the host computer. In these cases, the exercise of jurisdiction is determined by examining the level of interactivity and commercial nature of the exchange of information that occurs on the Web site.’ ... The third category involves passive Web sites; i.e., sites that merely provide information or advertisements to users. ... Districts courts do not exercise jurisdiction in the latter cases because ‘a finding of jurisdiction . . . based on an Internet web site would mean that there would be nationwide (indeed, worldwide) personal jurisdiction over anyone and everyone who establishes an Internet web site. Such nationwide
jurisdiction is not consistent with traditional personal jurisdiction case law . ...’” [Slip op. 14-15]
In the Court’s view, this case clearly falls into category three. Defendant placed information about its hotels on the Internet to advertise and not to conduct business. “Thus, the Court finds that exercising jurisdiction over a defendant who merely advertises its services or product on the Internet would violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Exercising jurisdiction in such a case would be unjust and would disrespect the principles established by International Shoe and its progeny.” [Slip op. 17]
Citation: Weber v. Jolly Hotels, Inc., 977 F. Supp. 327 (D.N.J. 1997).
U.S. and EU sign Science & Technology Agreement providing for joint research and training operations as well as personnel exchanges
On December 5, prior to the opening of the U.S.-EU Summit in Washington, D.C., the U.S. and the EU signed a Science and Technology Agreement. The Agreement sets up a framework for expanding U.S.-EU scientific cooperation through joint endeavors. It also looks to the protection of intellectual property rights resulting from joint research.
The sectors for joint activities include the environment, biomedicine and health (including AIDS research), biotechnology, and social sciences (Article 4). The joint activities will include, for example, joint research, seminars, training activities, sharing of equipment, and exchange of scientific personnel between EU scientific institutions and U.S. government agencies [including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the national Institutes of Health (NIH)]. A joint Consultative Group (JCG) will monitor the activities pursuant to the Agreement (Article 6). A specific Annex determines the intellectual property rights in the resulting research results. Basically, each party has a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license in all countries to reproduce, distribute and use the written research (Annex, Paragraph II.A.). Other intellectual property will be administered according to a joint “technology management plan.” (Annex, Paragraph II.B.2(a)).
The Agreement is valid for 5 years, and the parties may extend it for additional 5-year periods. It will enter into force once the parties have notified each other that they have properly implemented the Agreement into national law.
Citation: Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the European Community and the Government of the United States of America, available at the website of the EC Commission in Washington DC at http://www.eurunion.org/ partner/science.htm; European Union News press release No. 81/97 (December 5, 1997); U.S. Department of State Press Briefing (December 5, 1997).
U.S. and EU conclude Agreement on Global Electronic Commerce
On December 5, 1997, at the U.S.-EU Summit on Guidelines for Future Work on Trade in Global Electronic Commerce (GEC), the U.S. and the EU concluded an Agreement on GEC trade including a commitment to “duty free cyberspace.” The parties issued a joint statement to this effect.
With the “Joint EU-U.S. Statement on Electronic Commerce,” both parties agree that:
- When parties order goods electronically and deliver them physically, there will be no additional import duties because of the electronic communications (Section 4.(i)).
- They will support self-regulatory codes of conduct and technologies to gain consumer confidence, involving all market players including consumer advocates (Section 5.(i)), and
- They will cooperate in R&D and electronic commerce technologies within the framework of the EU-U.S. Science and Technology Agreement (Section 5.(iv)).
Citation: U.S. Trade Representative press release 97-103 (December 9, 1997), available through the USTR Fax Retrieval System at (202) 395-4809, or at the USTR website www.ustr.gov.
U.S. implements market-opening commitment of WTO Basic Telecom Agreement by adopting new standard for foreign participation in U.S. satellite services market
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a Report and Order adopting a new standard for allowing foreign companies to take part in the U.S. satellite services market. The Report and Order carry out the market-opening commitments of the WTO Agreement on Basic Telecommunications Services [WTO Basic Telecom Agreement] [incorporated into the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) by the Fourth Protocol of GATS, 36 I.L.M. 336 (1997)]. Under the WTO Basic Telecom Agreement, the U.S. must let foreign suppliers provide basic telecommunications services, including satellite services, in the U.S. Some 68 other WTO Members have made similar commitments.
The regulatory changes provide a framework for evaluating requests by non-U.S. licensed satellites for access to the U.S. economy. The FCC will review the applications to decide whether a grant of authority comports with the public interest, convenience, and necessity [47 U.S.C. 301]. It will take into account such public interest factors as the effect on competition in the U.S., spectrum availability, eligibility and operating requirements, as well as national security, law enforcement, and foreign policy concerns. The FCC presumes that WTO Member access promotes competition in the U.S. satellites market.
The Commission will publish the effective date of the changes once the Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirements for participating businesses.
Citation: 62 Federal Register 64167 (December 4, 1997).
U.S. prevails before WTO panel in dispute over Argentina’s ad valorem import tax and duties
A WTO Dispute Settlement Panel has upheld the U.S. challenge to Argentina’s duties and taxes on imports. The underlying facts are as follows. Most of Argentina’s import tariffs are determined in ad valorem terms. For textiles, apparel, and footwear, however, it used “minimum specific import duties” (Derechos de Importación Específicos Mínimos, DIEM). For each textile, apparel and footwear tariff categories, Argentina established an average import price. Argentina then multiplied that price by the bound rate of 35% to determine the specific minimum duty for all products in that category. Argentina then applied either the specific minimum duty or the ad valorem rate, whichever was higher. In addition, Argentina applied a 3% tax on imported products.
The U.S. had requested a WTO dispute settlement panel on January 9, 1997. The Panel Report became available on November 25, 1997.
In brief, the panel considered Argentina’s specific duties on textiles and apparel excessive, and Argentina’s 3% tax on almost all imports impermissible. Specifically, Argentina’s duties on textiles and apparel violate GATT Article II. Argentina may not impose specific duties where it bases its tariffs exclusively in ad valorem terms.
Furthermore, Argentina’s 3% statistical tax violates GATT Article VIII. Non-tariff charges on imports must approximate the cost of any service rendered to the individual importer or shipment at issue. The Panel rejected Argentina’s argument that it needs to levy the tax to meet general fiscal requirements imposed by the IMF. Article VIII mandates that non-tariff charges may recoup only the cost of providing services to a particular importer.
Citation: Argentina - Measures Affecting Imports of Footwear, Textiles, Apparel and Other Item, Report of the Panel (WT/DS56/R, 25 November 1997), available at the WTO website www.wto.org; U.S. Trade Representative press release 97-99 (November 25, 1997), available through the USTR Fax-on-Demand system at (202) 395-4809, or the USTR website www.ustr.gov.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission decides to continue "all or virtually all" standard for "Made in USA" products
For purposes of advertising and labeling, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to keep the "all or virtually all" standard for products designated "Made in USA." It has published an Enforcement Policy Statement to this effect.
In the past, the FTC has held that a product must be wholly domestic or all or virtually all made in the U.S. to be called "Made in USA." In 1995, the FTC issued "Proposed Guides" for the use of U.S. origin claims, which would have required a "reasonable basis" for making a "Made in USA" claim. After reviewing comments from interested parties, the FTC decided to continue the current "all or virtually all" standard because consumers are likely to understand the claim "Made in USA" in such a way.
The FTC explains that "all or virtually all" ordinarily means that all significant parts of the product and processing are of U.S. origin. The foreign content of the product should be de minimis. In making this determination, the Commission will focus on several factors. Examples include the place of final assembly or processing, manufacturing costs imputable to U.S. parts, and the distance of the finished product from any foreign content. The effective date of the Enforcement Policy was December 1, 1997.
Citation: 62 Federal Register 63756 (December 2, 1997).
U.S. Treasury Department issues “Reasonable Care List” to aid importers to comply with customs rules
To provide guidance to importers, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has published a “Reasonable Care Checklist” to simplify compliance with customs rules. Section 484 of the Tariff Act, as amended, requires an importer of record to use “reasonable care” in filing information with the Customs Service. Since the circumstances of every import transaction differ, it has been difficult to define what “reasonable care” means in practice.
Therefore, the “Reasonable Care List” provides checklists that the importer should review for each transaction. The “General Questions for all Transactions” include two questions of special interest. The first is whether a knowledgeable individual has reviewed the Customs Regulations, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and the GPO publication “Customs Bulletin and Decisions.” The second asks whether different ports or customs offices handle identical transactions or merchandise differently.
The list arranges additional questions by topic, for example “Merchandise Description & Tariff Classification, “Valuation,” and “Intellectual Property Rights.” The effective date was December 4, 1997.
Citation: 62 Federal Register 64248 (December 4, 1997).
- WTO Panel finds against U.S. in dispute with Japan over whether latter unfairly excludes foreign photographic film and paper from its market. On December 5, 1997, a Dispute Settlement Panel of the WTO ruled that Japan has not unfairly excluded Kodak film from the Japanese market. The U.S. had alleged that informal barriers exist in the Japanese market because of close networks among Japanese manufacturers, distributors, and government agencies [keiretsu] (in this case favoring Fuji Photo Film Co.). -- This is the first WTO case that the U.S. has lost. Citation: Japan - Measures Affecting Consumer Photographic Film and Paper (WT/DS44); U.S. Trade Representative press release 97-102 (December 5, 1997); World Trade Panel Sides with Japan in Kodak Sales Dispute, Washington Post (December 6, 1997), page A1. [The Japanese Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) has made its government's submissions to the Panel available on its website: www.miti.go.jp. Also, MITI summarized a survey of the Japan Fair Trade Commission on Transactions Among Firms in the Consumer Color Photographic Film and Paper Markets (July 23, 1997), available from Mr. Masabumi Suzuki, Americas Division, International Trade Policy Bureau, Phone: (81)(3) 3501-1094.]