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WTO Approves EU Sanctions Against U.S. In Dumping Row

By Agence France-Presse The World Trade Organization gave the green light Feb. 24 to the European Union to place sanctions on the United States for failing to revoke a 1916 anti-dumping law declared illegal by the WTO, officials said. WTO arbitrators authorized the EU to impose sanctions that correspond to damages suffered by members of the EU because of the law's application, WTO diplomats and EU officials said. The United States Congress has so far failed to repeal legislation that was rejected by a WTO appeals body in December 2001. The European Union had therefore sought approval from the WTO to impose sanctions on the United States, a move contested by Washington, which asked for the dispute to be referred to an arbitration panel. The contested 1916 law allows U.S. companies found to have been financially harmed to go to U.S. courts to seek compensation from exporters who have dumped their goods on U.S. markets. Several European firms, notably in the steel, printing machinery and elevator sectors, have been penalized by the legislation, the EU executive commission said last September. The commission is seeking permission to impose the same sort of financial penalties on U.S. companies guilty of dumping on European markets. But the commission said it hoped the sanctions could yet be avoided. "The EU may now adopt a mirror regulation at any time, but it strongly hopes that rapid action by Congress will make such a step unnecessary," it said in a statement. Under international trade rules, countries are entitled to increase customs duties on imports that are deemed to have been sold at "dumping" prices, that is, below fair market value, and to have thereby harmed their domestic industries. U.S. reaction to the WTO finding was muted. "The administration has been and will continue to work with Congress to fully comply with U.S. WTO obligations in the 1916 Act dispute. Today's award will not change that," said Richard Mills, spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, in a statement. "While the award leaves open the possibility that the EU could retaliate in the future if there are quantifiable 1916 Act judgments or settlements against EU companies, we do not believe this will pose a problem." *IW contributed to this report. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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