Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 10 News List

WTO may soon change anti-dumping regulations


Trade officials from Taiwan and 14 other countries said at a meeting in Geneva on Wednesday that the anti-dumping rules of the WTO should be tightened in order to prevent these rules from becoming trade barriers.

They said that in recent years certain countries have repeatedly taken anti-dumping actions to protect domestic industries from legitimate foreign competition.

They did not give the names of countries that have taken anti-dumping actions most often. But statistics have shown that the US and member countries of the EU are the biggest users of anti-dumping measures.

The number of anti-dumping actions taken in the 1980s averaged 138 each year. It jumped to 330 each year in the period between 1999 and 2001.

Currently, 1,100 dumping cases are under investigation.

The participants from Taiwan and some other countries said at the meeting that their countries' industries, particularly the steel, petrochemical, and semiconductor industries, have been badly hit by anti-dumping duties and burdensome anti-dumping investigations.

Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rice, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey were represented in the meeting.

Developing countries have often accused rich states, particularly the US, of resorting to anti-dumping duties to protect inefficient domestic industry.

The US has traditionally been the most active user of such duties, imposed at the request of industry when foreign competitors are believed to be selling goods at below cost price, although it has recently been overtaken by India.

The issue is on the agenda of the Doha Round of free trade talks, launched in the Qatari capital in November 2001. They are due to conclude by 2005 with accords on liberalising trade in sectors ranging from farm goods to banking.

But the 15 countries, including Brazil, South Korea but also Japan, warned that liberalising trade by cutting tariffs would serve no purpose if some states continued using anti-dumping measures as a trade barrier.

Noting that the use of anti-dumping measures by some of the WTO's 144 states had soared to an average of 330 cases a year between 1999 and 2001, from an average 237 during the 1990s, the countries said:

"We are concerned a major part of this increase could be attributed to the abusive use of anti-dumping rules against legitimate exports in order to protect domestic industries."

They noted in a statement that while the average level of import tariffs on industrial and other non-agricultural goods had fallen to 5 percent in the world's four richest WTO members, the average amount of anti-dumping duty -- when imposed by any member state -- was 45 percent.

"The proliferation of anti-dumping measures serves as a substitute for the trade barriers that have been eliminated through painstaking negotiations," they said.

The US has defended its use of the controversial measure saying that if competitor countries stopped state aid and other subsidies, there would be little reason for anti-dumping measures to exist.

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