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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 03:02 GMT
Steel producers attack US tariffs
Steel plant
The US move could spark a trade war
Japan looks set to join the European Union in lodging a protest with the World Trade Organisation over the US decision to impose punishing tariffs on steel imports.


We have been an indiscriminate and unfair victim of the United States

Jose Alfredo Graca Lima
Brazilian official
Japanese Trade Minister, Takeo Hiranuma, said they regretted Washington's decision to make the decision "without listening to the voices of its trade partners."

The Australian Government is also exploring ways of challenging the move, the French news agency, AFP, reported.

President George W Bush is imposing the tariffs under a three-year plan to help the ailing US steel industry.

The duties, ranging from 8 percent to 30%, will take effect on 20 March and affect 10 separate steel products.

Challenge

"We will keep close contacts with other affected nations, such as Europe and South Korea to take appropriate action, which could mean filing a complaint with the WTO," Mr Hiranuma said in a statement.

His Australian counterpart, Mark Vaile, said they would be studying the US plan to see if it complied with world trade agreements.

Countries affected
Brazil, Ukraine, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Germany, Turkey, France, China, Australia, the Netherlands
"If the grounds exist...for us to challenge this decision in the WTO, then certainly we are always going to exercise our rights on behalf of Australian exporting industries, " he told Sky News Australia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the US Ambassador, Alexander Vershbow, to express concern about the threatened tariffs, the Associated Press reported.

And a senior Brazilian trade negotiator, Jose Alfredo Graca Lima, also criticised Washington's move.

"We have been an indiscriminate and unfair victim of the United States," he said.

See also:

01 Mar 02 | Business
US steel workers stage mass protest
07 Jun 01 | Business
Slowdown fuels US steel aid
27 Dec 00 | Business
EU-US trade dispute looms
26 Nov 00 | Business
US faces $4bn trade threat
05 Jun 01 | Business
Bush seeks steel probe
06 Jun 01 | Business
EU opens attack on US steel probe
04 Mar 02 | Business
Steel trade war looms
05 Mar 02 | Business
Q&A: World steel dispute
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