Safeguards, import

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A trade policy tool available to temporarily increase border protection for designated commodities and products. Its purpose is to allow a producing sector to adjust to changed market conditions before facing competition again without such protection. For agricultural products subject to tariffication, the Uruguay Round’s Agreement on Agriculture (Part I, Article 5) establishes a special agricultural safeguard that allows countries to impose an additional duty when sudden import surges (volumes) exceed, or import prices fall below, a trigger level. The United States has announced quantity and price trigger levels for those products whose imports were previously restricted using Section 22 fees and quotas and for which tariff-rate quotas are now in place: beef, mutton, 18 dairy products, peanuts, peanut butter and paste, raw cane sugar, refined sugar and syrups, eight types of sugar-containing products, mixed condiments and seasonings, animal feed containing milk, and six cotton categories. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) includes a special agricultural safeguard to provide added protection against import surges of six seasonal vegetables and fruit from Mexico until tariffs are completely phased out by year-end 2003. Covered by this safeguard are U.S. imports from Mexico of fresh tomatoes, eggplant, chili peppers, squash, onion and shallots, and watermelon during specified time periods. Comparable safeguards exist on Mexican imports from the United States of 17 categories of goods that include live swine, certain pork products, certain potato products, fresh apples, and coffee extract. NAFTA provides that no such special safeguard may be maintained on a good if it is the subject of an emergency action. Both the Uruguay Round and NAFTA special safeguard provisions differ from broader import relief authority laid out in Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974.

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