Dominican Republic’s Import Tariffs on Bags Ruled Illegal by WTO

The Dominican Republic’s import tariffs on polypropylene bags and tubular fabric break global rules, the World Trade Organization said, backing a complaint by Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The complaint was filed in October 2010 after the Dominican Republic imposed duties of as much as 38 percent on imports of the sacks, used to pack foods and agro-industrial and industrial products, as a temporary step to protect its producers. Such “safeguard measures” are permitted when imports of a product damage or threaten to harm a specific domestic industry.

WTO judges in Geneva today agreed with the complaining countries that the safeguard wasn’t justified because the Dominican Republic failed to prove its domestic industry had been damaged.

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