Speculation Mounts Regarding Bush Administration Decision on Steel Safeguards
With many key advisers to President Bush having concluded that the section 201 safeguards on steel products are causing more harm than good, speculation is mounting that the Bush Administration may soon scale back or significantly modify the scope of safeguard measures imposed on imported steel products, rather than risking a trade war with Europe, Japan, China and other countries.
The WTO, which today had been expected to formally adopt a finding that the U.S. steel tariffs violate the WTO's Agreement on Safeguards, has granted a nine day delay requested by the U.S. The new deadline for the WTO's final decision is December 10, 2003. The issuance of the WTO's final decision is significant in that no retaliatory measures may be imposed by WTO countries until the ruling is issued.
The European Union, one of a number of trade partners to take action at the WTO over the levies, had already advised the U.S. that it will increase tariffs on up to $2.2 billion of U.S. goods within five days of the WTO approving the court ruling. Japan, China and Norway have announced plans to retaliate on U.S. products and Brazil, New Zealand, South Korea and Switzerland are considering retaliatory measures as well.