EU to take Colombia to WTO over duties on frozen fries

EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström has agreed to start a World Trade Organization consultation on the issue of Colombian anti-dumping duties on fries from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told POLITICO today.

The consultation will be the first stage of formal dispute settlement at the WTO. It gives all sides a chance to discuss the issue behind closed doors and try to find a solution. Should no agreement be reached in this stage, a panel can be established.

Earlier efforts to come to terms with Colombia on the issue have not had “any real effects,” Reynders said upon arrival at the meeting of EU trade ministers today, adding that it is “very important” for Belgium to get the Commission to start consultations at the WTO.

Dutch Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag told POLITICO: “Its very important [to act] … because this deals with a sort of contagious element, a precedent case: If they get away with it in this sector … then it can also happen in other sectors. And thats obviously very concerning.”

Last week, the Colombian government announced anti-dumping duties on imports of frozen fries from Beligum, Germany and the Netherlands.

The European Commission insisted it had not sat idle. It tweeted: 19 “times weve stepped up in the last year — ranging from ministerial meetings with national authorities to formal submissions in the WTO — to support the access of European frites to the Colombian market.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated the status of the duties.

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