U.S. Opens Door To Russian Steel

By Agence France-Presse U.S. and Russian officials concluded two days of trade talks Nov. 19 by signing a steel agreement that partially lifts anti-dumping laws against Russian producers. But the two sides reported little to no progress over other trade liberalization issues that if resolved would allow Russia to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), with Moscow sticking to its refusal of a quick freeing of prices in its energy sector. The steel deal, signed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Faryar Shirzad and Russian Deputy Economic Trade and Development Minister Maxim Medvedkov, allows Russia to export an additional 200,000 tons of slab steel annually to the United States, Russian officials said. The two sides also initialed an agreement, which could be signed in Paris next month on the sidelines of an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting, that would see Russia export up to 40,000 tons annually of plate and other partially processed steel to U.S. markets. The second agreement, however, will only take effect if three Russian steel majors -- Severstal, Nosta and Magnitogorsk (MMK) -- meet U.S. requirements for lifting their export prices to market levels defined by the U.S. Commerce Department. "Russia has not only been a partner and advocate in supporting the U.S. proposal to eliminate worldwide government subsidization to the steel industry, but has demonstrated great leadership by putting forth a plan of reform for its domestic steel industry," Shirzad said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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