- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2003

The Bush administration's 2004 budget would repeal a measure that allows U.S. companies to be paid millions of dollars in duties collected from foreign competitors.
Also known as the Byrd Amendment, for Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 paid $329 million to about 1,200 companies last year. Heavy industry, especially steel companies, were the major beneficiaries, but other industries also benefited.
The World Trade Organization last month ruled that the act violates international trade rules, and a WTO panel said it should be revised.
The Bush administration's budget called the measure a corporate subsidy that provides a "double-dip" benefit to industries that already gain protection from increased prices caused by tariffs.
Repeal of the provision would allow the funds to be directed to higher-priority use, the budget document said. It also would allow the United States to comply with the WTO ruling.
The law in question allows U.S. companies to pocket money that foreign rivals pay when they sell their products here. When companies complain that U.S. firms face unfair competition, and the government agrees, the government can impose tariffs on specific products from certain countries.
Those tariffs effectively raise prices in the United States. Starting in 2001, the revenue from the tariffs went directly to companies that lodged the complaints.
The law grew in popularity as more companies applied and more money was doled out from 2001 to 2002.
"This administration has stated that it is a friend to American steelworkers. Yet the Bush budget throws away two initiatives that are critical to the financial health of American steel companies," said Mr. Byrd, who ushered the measure into law as part of the agriculture appropriations bill in 2000. "The president cannot claim friendship to steel while pushing policies that would make ghost towns of steel communities."
Last week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he would consider repealing the measure, but noted that such an effort would face opposition.



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