CITAC STF: WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION RULING
Washington, DC: In response to today's World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body decision declaring the Bush Administration's Section 201 steel tariffs contrary to WTO obligations, Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition Steel Task Force (CITAC STF) Chairman William E. Gaskin urged President Bush to terminate the steel tariffs immediately.
Gaskin stated, "In addition to the continuing damage and job losses that the tariffs are causing U.S. steel consumers, the U.S. now faces billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs by our trading partners. For the sake of the U.S. manufacturing sector, it's time to end the tariffs now. Manufacturers need some positive news and a quick end to the steel tariffs will help send a message that the President supports American manufacturers and understands the requirement that they be globally competitive."
Gaskin further stated, "The steel tariffs should be rescinded for several reasons. First, they have already helped domestic steel producers as much as they possibly could. More tariffs will only hurt U.S. steel consumers more. Second, terminating the steel tariffs immediately would work to avoid retaliation from our trading partners. Third, terminating the tariffs would help the overall U.S. manufacturing economy, and give hope to American steel consuming companies that have been badly damaged since the tariffs were imposed in March 2002 and will continue to be damaged every day the tariffs stay in place."
The WTO Appellate Body ruling today that the U.S. steel tariffs violate the WTO Safeguards agreement was widely expected. "As the world's leader in trade liberalization and opening markets around the world, the United States cannot afford to ignore the requirements of the WTO system," said Lewis Leibowitz, Counsel to the CITAC STF. "Our preliminary review of the decision indicates that it is consistent with WTO precedent in ruling that the U.S. violated the WTO Safeguards Agreement in imposing the tariffs last year. Based on Article 8 of the Agreement, the EU and seven other countries would be within their rights to impose restrictions on U.S. exports potentially totaling billions of dollars, not to mention other countries that did not bring a case against the U.S."
The WTO Appellate Body decision will become official in early December. The European Union (EU) has announced that it will retaliate on U.S. exports to the EU worth $2.2 billion five days after the decision is official unless President Bush ends the tariffs. Other U.S. trading partners are expected to announce retaliatory measures as well.
President Bush is expected to decide any day on the future of the steel tariffs. In September 2003, the U.S. International Trade Commission's midpoint review of the steel tariffs showed that the tariffs have cost the U. S. economy $987.2 million and thousands of U.S. jobs. Numerous economic studies have also found that the tariffs caused far more damage to the U.S. economy than helped the domestic steel industry.
Said Gaskin, "By their own admission, the domestic steel industry is healthier today as a result of long overdue consolidation and a new labor agreement. Keeping the tariffs in place will not cause additional consolidation or result in new labor agreements. Instead it will continue to cause U.S. jobs to be exported overseas, where companies can obtain global market prices for steel."
Gaskin concluded, "Eliminating the steel tariffs will remove a tax being paid by U.S. steel consuming industries and avoid damaging tariffs being placed on U.S. exports by the EU and other trading partners. The debate should be over. Any good that the tariffs might have accomplished has been achieved and it is time to end them."
The CITAC Steel Task Force is comprised of steel consumers working to achieve the termination of the 201 steel tariffs by mid-point review and reform U.S. trade laws and policies to benefit U.S. steel consumers.