WTO Authorizes Sanctions Against U.S. For Anti-dumping Law

By Agence France-Presse The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Aug. 31 authorized the European Union and seven countries to slap millions of dollars worth of sanctions against the United States in retaliation for a U.S. anti-dumping law. The WTO, after seven months of arbitration, announced that the eight trading powers could levy sanctions amounting to 72% of the sums reaped from the offending legislation. The EU and the seven countries -- Brazil, Canada, Chile, India, Japan, Mexico and South Korea -- had complained to the world trade body because Washington had not repealed the legislation -- which the WTO had condemned as incompatible with its rules -- before the deadline of Dec. 27, 2003. The legislation, known as the Byrd amendment after its sponsor Senator Robert Byrd, was approved in October 2000. Under the law, the U.S. government distributes the anti-dumping and anti-subsidies duties to the U.S. companies that allege dumping, or the selling abroad at less than the market price in the domestic market. U.S. companies reaped about $561 million (463.2 million euros) from the law in 2001 and 2002. Reacting to the WTO ruling, the U.S. said it would work with Congress to modify the law but would remain vigilant against unfairly subsidized trade. "The United States will comply with its WTO obligations, and the administration will work closely with Congress to do so in a way that supports American jobs and American workers," said Christopher Padilla, spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office. "Today's determination will not affect the ability of the United States to continue enforcing its trade laws to impose duties on countries that sell unfairly dumped or subsidized products in the U.S. market," he added. Padilla said the Byrd amendment "simply deals with how the funds collected from such duties are disbursed by the Treasury," and added that the WTO agreed with the U.S. position that claims of damage to some countries "were grossly exaggerated." EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy welcomed the WTO decision, noting in a statement: "The Byrd amendment has raised widespread concerns from the outset as evidenced by the large number of complainants in this case. Trade defense instruments are a legitimate tool, but they have to follow WTO rules. It is clear that the Byrd amendment is a WTO-incompatible response to dumping and subsidization and must therefore go." Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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