EU, Japan agree to give United States more time before imposing sanctions in steel dispute

Friday, November 28th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GENEVA (AP) _ The European Union and its allies have agreed to a nine-day delay before imposing billions of dollars in trade sanctions against the United States over illegal steel tariffs, World Trade Organization officials said Friday.

The EU, Japan and Norway had threatened to impose import duties on U.S. goods beginning Dec. 6 unless Washington dropped tariffs of up to 30 percent on imported steel.

But trade organization officials said Friday that all the countries involved agreed to delay imposing the retaliatory tariffs until Dec. 15.

A WTO appeals panel on Nov. 10 upheld an earlier WTO decision that said the U.S. duties violated the trade organization's rules.

The 15-nation EU has threatened tariffs on $2.2 billion worth of U.S. imports ranging from orange juice to pajamas unless the duties are removed immediately. The Norwegian government has threatened 30 percent duties on roughly $12 million worth of American imports, while Japan planned around $98 million of imports duties, according to Kyodo News.

President Bush's administration says the tariffs _ imposed last year _ are needed to bolster the beleaguered U.S. steel industry. Steel-producing states in the midwestern United States are lobbying to keep the duties, while big U.S. steel consumers, like automakers, however, demand their removal.

In addition to the EU, Norway and Japan, Korea, China, Switzerland, New Zealand and Brazil all challenged the legality of the tariffs and have threatened retaliatory tariffs.