EU, Other Steel Producers Attack U.S. 'Double Protection'

By John S. McClenahen A controversial amendment to a U.S. agricultural appropriations bill signed into law two months ago has the 15-nation European Union (EU) -- and eight other countries -- in trade attack mode. They're seeking the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Trade Organization's (WTO) assistance in challenging the so-called Byrd amendment, which allows steel producers and other companies to receive money collected when they successfully bring antidumping or countervailing duty cases against European and other foreign manufacturers. Joining the EU in the WTO filing against the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Robert Byrd (D, W.Va.), are Australia, Brazil, Chile, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. Their central complaint is that the channeling of duties to manufacturers to pay for facilities and technology -- rather than sending the money to the U.S. Treasury as was the previous practice -- is illegal under WTO rules. "The Byrd amendment, by compensating the injured party already protected by the application of duties at the [U.S.] border, gives industries a 'double protection,'" claims the EU. Chances are the Clinton Administration will leave this issue behind for the incoming Bush Administration.

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