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When U.S. Free Trade Is Not Free

The protectionist U.S. now shows its hands as they promote free trade.

"Steel workers were important to the presidentís success in the 2000 election; and they could have an equally significant role in the mid-term congressional elections coming up in November."

President Announces Temporary Safeguards for Steel Industry
Statement by the President

World unites to condemn US steel tariffs decision

Only four months ago the World Trade Organisation took the historic step of launching a new trade round in Doha.

By Wednesday the US decision to impose 30 per cent tariffs on steel imports around the world was threatening to poison global trade relations as President George W. Bush's announcement was greeted with almost universal criticism.

Unleashing a bitter attack on the decision, Pascal Lamy, EU trade commissioner and one of the chief architects of the Doha agreement, admitted that the steel dispute "would not be helpful in terms of the atmosphere" in the WTO.

His words found an echo across the world. Werner Muller, Germany's economy minister, summed up the reaction of many, calling the US decision "unjustified" in blaming others for the failure of the its steel industry to restructure. "The decision not only puts considerable strain on US-EU trade relations, but is also a negative signal, coming so soon after the opening of the new world trade round in Doha," Mr Muller said.

Mr Lamy said the EU would be seeking to exploit the possibility offered by the WTO's safeguards agreement to seek compensation from the US or, failing that, retaliation on US exports of equivalent value to the European steel exports likely to be affected by Mr Bush's measures.

He confirmed the EU would co-ordinate with countries including China, Japan, South Korea and Brazil in preparing a case against the US in the WTO. The EU is also due next week to begin internal discussions on its own safeguard measures to prevent a surge in imports as steelmakers seek alternative markets to the US. MORE

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