US Responds to WTO Byrd Amendment Ruling
Washington will not be deterred from imposing anti-dumping duties, says USTR
WASHINGTON, DC - 09/03/04 - The US "will continue to impose duties on countries that dump their goods on the US market" despite a World Trade Organization (WTO) decision this week authorizing the seven countries and the European Union (EU) that earlier this year brought a case against the US Byrd Amendment to take retaliatory tariff action against selected US exports.?
The WTO had ruled that the Byrd Amendment violated WTO obligations in January and gave Washington until December to bring its anti-dumping regime into compliance with the ruling.
The EU was joined by Canada, Japan, India, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and South Korea in the case against the controversial Byrd Amendment, which directs the US government to distribute anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties directly to American companies harmed by dumping and subsidies.
Before the Byrd Amendment - named for its sponsor, Democrat Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia - such revenue went directly to the US Treasury.
US firms producing or processing an eclectic variety of products including steel and metal products, pasta, preserved mushrooms, ball bearings, canned pineapples, lumber, candles, pencils, and crawfish tail meat have benefited from the amendment with close to $710 million paid out since the amendment became law three years ago.
The WTO sets the level of sanctions allowed in such cases.
The organization had been asked to slap the US with sanctions equal to the amount of disbursements, but WTO arbitrators ruled that the trading partners' claims of damage were overblown and set the figure at 72%.?
"Some foreign countries claimed that US trade laws like the Byrd Amendment cause them significant economic damage, but the panel of arbitrators at the WTO agreed with the United States that those claims were grossly exaggerated," said a statement issued by the Office of US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
"While the arbitrators' determinations fell far short of the amount requested by the complaining parties, the United States remains committed to resolving this issue in a way that promotes the competitiveness of American workers," it said, adding "the US also will continue to work to resolve the dispute within the WTO."
"Nobody thinks the law will be changed even in 2005. Maybe 2006, but that's a long time off," said Gary Hufbauer, a trade economist at the Institute for International Economics, a Washington, DC-based think tank, commenting on the WTO December deadline in yesterday's USA Today.
Companies collecting Byrd Amendment payments are expected to lobby hard against attempts to repeal the law - particularly because "few are vulnerable to retaliatory penalties in other countries," he said.
A US company [benefiting from the amendment] "is never going to face any penalties," Hufbauer told the paper. "Most of them don't export."
back, or read the latest Front Page stories:
US Seeks Stronger Ties With Brazil
WASHINGTON, DC – 06/13/06 – Rebounding from the failure to craft a Free Trade Area of the Americas pact, the Bush Administration is aiming at strengthening trade ties with Brazil in an effort to counter China’s fast-growing economic influence in Latin America; China should not only be seen as an export market with 1.3 billion consumers, but also as a nation of 1.3 billion ''new competitors,'' says US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Guittierez.
US Threatens WTO Action Against China
WASHINGTON, DC – 06/10/06 – The White House is threatening to slap China with a World Trade Organization case unless Beijing responds quickly to US concerns over its lack of action on securing intellectual property rights for US products; talks on bringing the WTO case are at a ''very advanced stage,'' according to a high level official in the Office of the US trade Representative.
High Hopes for Central American Trade Pact
WASHINGTON, DC – 06/08/06 – The US -Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) still faces some hurdles, but could become a reality ''very soon,'' according to Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick; the issues relating to government procurement, intellectual property rights and agriculture still need to be worked through, says the former US Trade Representative following a session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.