The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy has appointed the three panelists to rule on a complaint by the United States against Turkey’s tariff-rate quota restrictions on imported rice.

The appointment of the panelists begins the review of the U.S. complaint, with the panel due to issue its ruling in early 2007.

The United States complains that Turkey’s TRQ system unfairly blocks the import of U.S. rice and violates WTO agreements. According to the USTR, Turkey’s TRQ restrictions have caused imports of U.S. rice to fall by two-thirds since 2003, while imports of U.S. milled and semi-milled rice have fallen by 91 percent over the same period.

The USA Rice Federation is working with the Bush administration and encouraged USTR to bring the WTO complaint.