- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

Consumer products, precious stones and precious metals top an EU list of U.S. products that would face sanctions if the United States does not comply with international trade rules, according to information released yesterday by the House Ways and Means Committee.
The ongoing trade dispute with the European Union is jeopardizing sales of a wide range of U.S. industrial and farm exports to Europe, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said yesterday in a letter to colleagues.
"Members need to be aware of the latest development, which could affect the livelihood of Americans in every district," Rep. Bill Thomas, California Republican, said in the letter.
The European Union's $4 billion retaliation list covers 1,866 U.S. products.
The list primarily consists of consumer products, with more than one-fourth of the total value, about $1.26 billion, targeting precious stones and metals such as silver, gold, diamonds, rubies and other jewelry products, Mr. Thomas' letter said.
The revised list also contains a significant amount of agricultural products, processed foods and other organic goods. Toys, sporting equipment, paper, textiles, leather goods, footwear and a broad range of steel products also are included, Mr. Thomas said.
Ways and Means Committee members met with the European Union's top trade official last week and discussed the potential trade sanctions, the result of a World Trade Organization ruling against the United States.
The Bush administration has asked Congress to comply with the WTO ruling by repealing the portion of the U.S. tax code that allows companies a so-called "extraterritorial-income" exclusion.
The exclusion, which provides partial exemption from taxes on some foreign sales and leases, saves U.S. companies about $4 billion each year.
But a WTO panel said the provision is an illegal export subsidy.
Congressional leaders are working on solutions to the complicated tax issue, but President Bush's economic package is taking precedence.
"The new list issued last week is significant because it marks a refined, focused set of products that are the targets for retaliation at any time. This new list is real," Mr. Thomas said.
EU officials are still internally discussing the sanctions list. Officials from Brussels have said they are gauging U.S. compliance with the WTO ruling before implementing the sanctions.
No deadline has been set.

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