- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2002

The U.S. International Trade Commission yesterday rejected an attempt by steel makers to add to tariffs imposed by President Bush in March.
The panel, which determines whether American companies have been injured by "dumped" imports, voted 4-1 to reject a bid by Bethlehem Steel, U.S. Steel and Nucor corporations to slap tariffs between 2 percent and 154 percent on cold-rolled steel from Australia, India, Japan, Sweden and Thailand.
Cold-rolled steel accounts for about one-third of all the steel sold in the United States, and is used to manufacture automobiles and kitchen appliances.
"An additional antidumping duty would have stopped trade in cold-rolled products entirely," said Jon Jenson, vice chairman of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition, a group of companies that buy steel.
The commission must still rule on imports from seven other countries in December.
American steel firms, more than 20 of which have filed for bankruptcy since 1997, had argued that American laws against dumping at unfairly low prices should be enforced, even though Mr. Bush already has imposed tariffs of up to 30 percent on foreign steel in response to their pleas.
"This ruling will encourage further unfair trading practices that have severely damaged the U.S. steel industry and American workers," said Thomas J. Usher, chairman and chief executive officer of U.S. Steel. "This determination moves the nation backwards, not forward, towards a free-trading future."
Bill Barringer, a Washington lawyer for Japanese companies, pointed out that prices for cold-rolled steel have risen from about $300 per ton in December to more than $400 today, largely because of Mr. Bush's tariffs. The commission, he said, was bound to conclude that foreign steel was responsible for the U.S. industry's woes.
"This case was decided on the merits," he said.
Yesterday's decision marked the last major U.S. decision regarding steel policy for this year, Mr. Barringer pointed out. Last week, the Bush administration announced a final round of exemptions from the March tariffs to forestall an immediate trade war with the European Union.
The exemptions lifted tariffs from about 25 percent of Europe's exports to the United States. Pascal Lamy, the EU trade commissioner, said that the 15-nation group will hold off on quick retaliation against the United States over the steel tariffs.
But the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and other steel producers have filed a complaint against the United State with the World Trade Organization over the duties, the outcome of which is expected sometime next year. A decision against the United States would open the door to billions of dollars in retaliatory levies against American exports.

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