It's about time. Bush ditches steel import duties. The tariffs were declared illegal by the World Trade Organisation in early November.
President George W Bush has decided to repeal US tariffs on imported steel to avoid a damaging trade war. The decision follows a World Trade Organisation decision that the duties, imposed in March 2002, are illegal. Mr Bush had justified them by saying foreign steel firms were driving US firms out of business with unfair competition and government subsidies. Without the widely-trailed repeal, the European Union would have imposed sanctions worth $2.2bn on 15 December.
The EU had carefully drawn up a list of products to target which are produced in states expected to be the key battlegrounds in the November 2004 presidential election, such as citrus fruit from Florida.
Oh yes, the repeal had nothing to do with the the tariffs being illegal, nothing to do with US car makers complaining, nothing to do with it driving up steel prices or hurting steel industries in Europe, and nothing at all to do with the EU sanctions due to start this month. A 30% import duty imposed against all foreign steel was outrageous, especially from a President who claims to be for a world that "trades freely and trades fairly." Who got the import duty money anyway?
Charlene Barshefsky, US trade representative, said "There have been any one of a number of studies that show that the costs of protectionism far outweigh the protective benefit of those measures." Protectionism bugs me. The US is big enough to survive with all the barriers up, other smaller countries cannot. The tariffs hurt everyone, including the US. Japan and Brazil joined the EU in objecting to the US position. America's reputation is now a little more isolationist, a little more biased, and a little more "hang your laws and rules, I only care about my own, and I'll do it my way." I don't like to see this country's reputation tarnished by actions like these tariffs, and I don't like the attitude behind the retaliatory threats the EU had to make to get the US to listen. Everyone comes off looking bad. It was a bad decision to impose the tariffs, and an ugly way to get rid of them.