Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 10 News List

WTO confirms that US steel tariffs are illegal

AFP , GENEVA

The WTO has confirmed that US tariffs on some steel imports flout international rules, supporting a complaint by the EU, Japan and six other countries, a source said yesterday.

"It is a good result. It is a confirmation that American measures are inconsistent with safeguard agreements," said the source, after seeing a copy of a final WTO report on the row, which is due to be released officially at 3:30pm.

"Even with changes those US measures are incompatible with WTO rules," added the source, who is from one of the complaining parties.

In the report, three judges had to decide whether they agreed with a WTO ruling on July 11 that the safeguard measures introduced by Washington in March last year were illegal. Their decision must then be adopted by member states within 30 days.

The US has contested the WTO's earlier findings and vowed to maintain three-year tariffs of 8 percent to 30 percent on selected types of steel imports designed to prop up the ailing US steel industry.

But EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy warned last week that if Washington failed to comply, "retaliation is a racing certainty in mid-December."

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