Mixed Recommendations On Steel Import Remedy Draw Mixed Reactions

By Jill Jusko The U.S. International Trade Commission's (ITC) recommendations for steel import relief, released Dec. 7, drew mixed reviews from industry observers. Mild disappointment from some U.S. steel companies hoping for stronger actions segued into outright condemnation from the European Commission. The ITC's recommendations for 16 steel product categories ranged from quotas to tariffs as high as 40% and extend the relief up to four years. The European Commission warned that implementation of the recommendations would constitute a violation of World Trade Organization rules and said it would launch an immediate complaint if they are imposed. "The EU calls on the U.S. Administration to reject this call for the protection of an industry that is already sheltering behind numerous defensive measures," stated EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy. At the opposite end, a joint statement from integrated steel producers Bethlehem Steel Corp., LTV Steel Co. Inc., U.S. Steel LLC and National Steel Corp. lauded the ITC for recognizing the "seriousness of the injury to American steel producers caused by the flood of low-priced foreign imports in recent years." However, they expressed disappointment that equally strong relief was not offered for all steel product lines and urged adoption of the highest (40%) tariff imposition recommendations. The ITC will submit its report to President George W. Bush by Dec. 19. He then has the final say about whether to provide relief, and the type and amount of relief. The president will have 60 days from the time he receives the report to make a decision.

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