WTO Rare Earth Case Open for Public Comment Until April 30.

Received an email alert this morning for the Federal Register Call for Public Comments on the WTO Rare Earth Case published by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

As readers well know, on March 13, 2012, the United States requested consultations regarding the restraints on exports from China of various forms of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum. The formal request is contained in a document titled Request for Consultations by the United States, in accordance with the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization.

USTR will accept any comments received during the course of the dispute settlement proceeding, and to be assured consideration, comments should be submitted on or before April 30, 2012. According to the Government Printing Office website where this notice is published, comments should be submitted electronically on the www.regulations.gov, by searching for document number USTR-2012-0005-0001. An easier method I discovered is to simply enter the term ‘rare earths’ in the search bar which will yield a link to where comments can be made.

Though this request is specific to the United States, comments are open to anyone from around the world, and business confidential information will be protected. However, a non-confidential summary of submitted comments is required for public record. A quick read of the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website indicated that it also might take some time for comments to show up on the site: “Once your comment is received, the appropriate agency must process it before it is posted to Regulations.gov. Given the fact that certain regulations may have thousands of comments, processing may take several weeks before it may be viewed online. Once processed, your comment is publicly viewable on Regulations.gov.”

No comments appear to have been posted yet, and although one might expect a high volume of comments due to the wide applicability of rare earths, that some information about respondents will remain public may dampen enthusiasm.