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WTO rules against U.S. import duties on steel


The World Trade Organization has just ruled against heavy import duties on steel imposed by U.S., saying they violate global trade rules, according to an Associated Press report.

The European Union and seven other countries had complained that the duties put in place to protect the U.S. steel industry from cheap imports – were unfairly hurting their own producers. In a joint statement, the complainants urged the U.S. to remove the measures "without delay."

The EU has also shown itself willing to carry a big stick into the negotiations. It is ready to $2.2 billion US in retaliatory duties on U.S. imports

The WTO also said the United States had acted illegally by exempting imports from certain countries from the duties. However, Canada and Mexico – Washington’s partners in the North American Trade Agreement – were excluded.

The decision may also prove a set back for the plans of Canadian steel producers looking to reduce low-priced steel imports into Canada, to put similar import duties in place. They have been pushing Ottawa on this front.

Bush introduced the “safeguard” duties of up to 30 per cent on steel products in March of last year. The administration argued the tariffs met WTO provisions allowing temporary duties for up to three years to protect a domestic industry from a flood of cheap imports and give it time to restructure.

The Bush administration has not yet responded to the ruling.