US steel safeguards gone: WTO survives!

Time for John Quig­gan to retract his sil­ly pre­dic­tion[⇒ relat­ed sto­ry] that the WTO rul­ing against the Bush safe­guard mea­sures would be the ‘end of the line’ for the glob­al treaty. This is anoth­er vic­to­ry for the mul­ti­lat­er­al sys­tem in the man­age­ment of trade dis­putes. But, of course, it’s not the end of US steel pro­tec­tion. The “NY Times”: notes that the US will con­tin­ue har­rass­ment action that may fall short of a breach of WTO oblig­a­tions. bq. To ease the impact, Bush announced he was con­tin­u­ing ear­ly report­ing require­ments that had been imposed when the tar­iffs were levied in 2002 to detect any big influx of steel into the Unit­ed States. bq. The report­ing pro­gram requires steel importers to apply for import licens­es, giv­ing the gov­ern­ment a quick­er way to detect pos­si­ble import surges than wait­ing for Cus­toms Ser­vice data when the steel arrives at U.S. ports. The admin­is­tra­tion also pledged aggres­sive use of U.S. antidump­ing laws should imports surge once the tar­iffs are lift­ed, and to con­tin­ue pur­su­ing glob­al nego­ti­a­tions aimed at reduc­ing sub­si­dies. Watch, how­ev­er, how many news outlets—unable even to read a press release—are report­ing the Bush deci­sion as if it were the lift­ing of all US steel tar­iffs.

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