- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Dumping on Germany

The new U.S. ambassador to Germany, a wealthy industrialist, angered leading German business executives even before he landed in Berlin because his firm reaps tens of millions of dollars a year that targeted German companies pay in high U.S. tariffs.

Ambassador William R. Timken Jr., former chairman of the Timken Co., headed one of the world’s leading manufacturers of roller bearings, which are used in just about any machine with moving parts. He resigned his position when he accepted the ambassadorial appointment.

His company is the chief beneficiary of tariffs imposed on Germany’s roller bearing firms that Washington accuses of “dumping” their product at below the cost of manufacture on the U.S. market. The World Trade Organization ruled the tariffs illegal in 2003, but the Bush administration has ignored the WTO decision.

Mr. Timken, also a major campaign fundraiser for President Bush, received an icy welcome in Germany from industrialists such as Jurgen Geissinger, president of the Federation of European Bearing Manufacturers Associations.

“Timken, one of the biggest beneficiaries of a trade policy that violates the WTO ruling, has been named ambassador to a country whose businesses suffer as a result of this policy,” Mr. Geissinger told Der Spiegel news magazine.

“It’s not just affecting our sales; jobs are at risk on a massive scale.”

The U.S. Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on Mr. Timken’s company and referred questions to the State Department, where a spokesman yesterday told our correspondent Nicholas Kralev that he was not familiar with the controversy.

The tariffs were authorized under the so-called “Byrd Amendment,” named for Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat. The measure authorizes the government to pay U.S. firms from the tariffs collected by competing foreign companies.

The Timken Co. collected $52.7 million from U.S. Customs and Border Protection last year and $92.7 million in 2003, Der Spiegel reported. The tariffs also apply to Japanese firms that produce roller bearings.

Andreas Rowold, secretary-general of the European bearings association, noted that Mr. Timken’s business dealings are a distraction from the diplomacy necessary to repair U.S.-German relations damaged by German opposition to the war in Iraq.

“The task is to improve trans-Atlantic economic ties instead of burdening them with U.S. trade policies that breach WTO rules and are hurting the bearings industry,” he told the engineering industry newsletter VDI Nachrichten.

Political leaders have been reluctant to criticize Mr. Timken too harshly. Der Spiegel characterized the reaction of Rainer Bruderle, a free-market advocate and member of parliament from the opposition Free Democrat Party, as “lukewarm.”

“Following the Timken appointment, the United States ought to distance itself from the policies of the Byrd Amendment,” he said.

Pakistan’s jet set

The Pakistani ambassador expects his country to take delivery of U.S. F-16 fighter planes by December.

“We are looking at something like 75 F-16s,” Ambassador Jehangir Karamat told the state-run news agency, the Associated Press of Pakistan, last week.

The first two are expected by the end of the year, with the others due for delivery under contracts still being negotiated, he said.

The total cost of the 75 planes is expected to be about $3 billion.

The United States had been blocking the sale since 1990 over concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear program. The current deal is seen in Pakistan as a reward for the country’s cooperation with the United States in the war on terrorism.

Congress is expected to approve the sale later this month, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported.

Mr. Karamat noted Pakistan’s increasing support in Congress. The Congressional Pakistan Caucus has 70 members in the House.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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