The Protection Committee monitors and reports annually to the Goods Council on the overall implementation of the agreement. A member concerned with a protective measure may ask the committee to decide whether the measure complies with the rules of procedure of the agreements. At the request of members, the Committee may support consultations or consider proposals for retaliatory measures. It monitors the release of notified “grey zone” measures and verifies all security messages. The current chair is. However, if a new protection measure lasts 180 days or less, it can be applied as long as one year has elapsed since the original protection measure was introduced and as long as, in the five years immediately preceding the introduction of the new protection measure, the product has not been subject to more than two safeguards. When applying a safeguard measure, the member must maintain a substantially equivalent level of concessions and other obligations to the exporting members concerned. In this regard, appropriate means of compensation can be agreed with the members concerned. In the absence of such an agreement, the exporting members concerned may individually suspend substantially equivalent concessions and other obligations. The latter right cannot be exercised during the first three years of a safeguard measure if the measure is taken on the basis of an absolute increase in imports and is in line with the provisions of the agreement by other means. A protective measure should not apply to small amounts of members in developing countries. In other words, if imports from a single developing country account for more than 3% of total imports of the product concerned and members of developing countries that, on an individual basis, account for no more than 9% of these imports, those imports are excluded from the measure. Article 2 sets out the conditions (i.e.
serious harm or the threat of increased imports) in which safeguards can be applied. It also provides that such measures must be applied on the basis of the MFN. Rules on the re-application of protection measures for a given product will be relaxed for members of developing countries. (The minimum duration of non-application for developing countries is, in most cases, half the duration of the initial action, provided that the period is at least two years). Under the GATT, safeguards have always been possible (Article XIX. However, they have rarely been used and some governments have preferred to protect their industries through grey zone measures (voluntary export restrictions on products such as cars, steel and semiconductors). A WTO member may take a safeguard measure (i.e. temporarily limit the importation of a product) to protect a particular domestic sector from increased imports of products that cause or threaten to cause serious harm to the industry. The right to retaliation, if no compensation is agreed, cannot be exercised in the first three years of a safeguard measure if the measure is taken on the basis of an absolute increase in imports and is otherwise in line with the provisions of the agreement. Members are required to inform the Committee of the initiation of an investigation into the existence of serious harm or threat, as well as of the reasons; Findings of serious harm or a threat to increase imports; Decisions on the application or extension of safeguards.
These communications contain the relevant information on which decisions are based. In the United States, the U.S. International Trade Commission conducts security investigations.
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