Brazil has launched a complaint against China with the World Trade Organization to challenge Beijing’s restrictions on sugar imports, a filing published by the WTO showed this week, writes Tom Miles.
Brazil said it was challenging China’s “safeguard” measure on imported sugar, the administration of its tariff-rate quota, and its “automatic import licensing” system for out-of-quota sugar.
Brazil’s recourse to the WTO, confirming a move approved by its foreign trade chamber CAMEX on 31 August, is a response to a plunge in Brazilian sugar exports since China imposed an additional 45% sugar tariff last year.
The tax was reduced to 40% this May and will be cut to 35% in May 2019. It comes on top of the regular tariff for sugar, which is 15% on the first 1.945 million tonnes and 50% on any imports outside that quota, the Brazilian filing said.
The WTO’s Safeguards Agreement allows such tariffs as a temporary measure to counter a sudden and unforeseen surge in imports that threatens to damage national producers.
But there are conditions that need to be met for the rules to apply, and Brazil said China broke 12 WTO rules with its safeguards, five rules with its quotas, and 13 with its licensing system.
Brazil said the automatic import licensing (AIL) system, which applied to imports outside the quota, was not “automatic”.
“Furthermore, under the AIL System, if imports increase too rapidly, MOFCOM can reduce or stop the issuance of licenses to import sugar at any time. China is thus restricting the importation of out-of-quota sugar.”
China’s Commerce Ministry said last week that its safeguard measures on sugar imports were in line with WTO rules.
By launching a dispute, Brazil has opened a 60-day window for China to try to settle the matter in talks. After that, Brazil could request adjudication by a WTO dispute panel.
Brazil had proposed that China exempt a limited amount of Brazilian sugar from the safeguard, but China resisted the plan, a source close to the negotiations said in April.
France to impose 10-day quarantine for travellers coming from Brazil
France will order a strict 10-day quarantine for all travellers coming from Brazil starting 24 April, the prime minister's office said on Saturday (17 April), in a bid to prevent the spread of a coronavirus variant first found in the South American county.
France decided this week to suspend all flights to and from Brazil. The measure will be extended until April 23, the prime minister's office said in the same statement. Read more
Starting April 24, only people residing in France or holding a French or European Union passport will be allowed to fly to the country.
The government will impose a 10-day quarantine on all travellers upon arrival, the prime minister's office said, and authorities will make checks before and after the flight that the travellers made the proper arrangements to isolate themselves.
The police will also be used to ensure the quarantine is respected, it said. Prior to boarding on the plane, authorised travellers will be required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that is less than 36 hours old.
The same measures will also gradually be put in place by April 24 for people returning from Argentina, Chile and South Africa, where the presence of other coronavirus variants were detected, the prime minister's office said.
A 10-day quarantine will also be imposed on travellers coming from the French Guiana, an overseas department of France on the northeast coast of South America.
France suspends all flights to and from Brazil due to COVID variant
France will suspend all flights to and from Brazil in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected there, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in parliament, writes Geert De Clercq.
“We take note that the situation is getting worse and we have decided to suspend all flights between France and Brazil until further notice,” Castex said.
Several leading French doctors have been calling on the government for days to stop all air traffic with Brazil.
A month ago, Health Minister Olivier Veran said that around 6% of COVID-19 cases in France were from the more contagious variants first found in Brazil and South Africa.
#Brazil chamber of deputies chief warns against shunning #Huawei
The head of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies warned the country’s 5G auction policies should not be swayed by ideology, Reuters reported, days after rumours emerged the US was potentially offering incentives for operators to shun Huawei equipment, writes Chris Donkin of Mobile World Live.
Rodrigo Maia, who leads Brazil’s lower house, said communications regulator Anatel should be left to focus on encouraging free and fair competition designed to keep consumer prices low in its 5G auction policies, rather than getting involved in political debates about China.
The country is yet to hold its 5G spectrum auction, which had been scheduled for March but was pushed back earlier this year with a new date yet to be revealed.
Maia’s comments follow widespread reports of the US offering to provide finance to help operators in Brazil purchase equipment from alternative suppliers to Huawei.
If a funding deal materializes, it would be a significant step-up a US campaign to try and persuade allied countries to follow its own policies and shut Huawei and other vendors it deems a security risk out of 5G.
So far few other countries have slapped outright bans on operators using equipment from specific vendors, though a number have introduced various limits or restrictions to ensure a mix of suppliers.
Huawei has consistently denied all allegations related to the security of its equipment and Chinese state influence.
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