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Monday, 28 August, 2000, 18:44 GMT 19:44 UK
US loses key world trade battle
A steelworks
The ruling is a victory for EU and Japanese steel makers.
The World Trade Organisation on Monday ruled that the United States must change an 84-year-old anti-dumping law because it contravened WTO regulations.

The ruling by the organisation's quasi-judicial appeals body confirmed an earlier finding against the law by a dispute panel and was seen as a significant victory for Japan and the EU, which had requested the initial ruling.

The US' Anti-Dumping Act, which has been in force since 1916, provides for a range of civil and criminal penalties against companies and individuals found guilty of dumping including fines, imprisonment and payment of damages.

In its original ruling, the WTO said these provisions violated global trade agreements which only allowed member states to impose import duties on goods dumped in their markets.

Further examination

US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said she disagreed with the ruling and would examine it further before deciding what to do next.

"We believe the panel and appellate body should not have assessed the 1916 act under WTO anti-dumping rules because it is more akin to an antitrust law than an anti-dumping law," she said.

The EU had referred the case to the WTO in 1998 following a complaint by the European Confederation of Iron & Steel Industries and had received the backing of Japan.

Steel imports row

This came after the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation cited the 1916 law to US authorities in a row over steel imports from the EU and Japan.

It had claimed that US steel importers were guilty of dumping because they were selling steel at below-cost prices in an unfair attempt to gain market share.

Some of the firms involved settled subsequent lawsuits with Wheeling-Pittsburgh, while other cases are still pending.

The WTO and the US must now agree on an appropriate period of time in which the changes to US legislation will be made.

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