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Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW), on February 07, 2012 issued a positive but cautious reaction to the signing of understandings reached by the U.S. with the European Union, and separately with Japan, in long running trade disputes over antidumping methodology called ‘zeroing.’
“USW members have been a petitioner or supporter of more than a third of the antidumping cases brought against imports during the last twenty years,” Gerard said. “Strong trade remedy laws are important for stopping the destructive practices of many of our trading partners who dump products in our market that harm our union members and domestic producers.”
Historically, U.S. law has captured 100 percent of dumping found with no reduction based on non-dumped sales. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body, in a series of decisions in the last decade, viewed the WTO Antidumping Agreement as requiring WTO members to give ‘credit’ for non-dumped sales. The U.S. under two Administrations has viewed the WTO Appellate Body decisions as overreaching and contrary to what the U.S. had negotiated.
The agreements made by the USTR with the European Union and Japan were the result of U.S. efforts to settle long standing disputes with two major trading partners.
The USW has long urged a clarification of U.S. rights within the WTO in the ongoing Doha negotiations to specifically permit capture of 100 percent of dumping found, while also seeking to clarify the intended limits on the power of the WTO Appellate Body. The announcement from U.S. Ambassador Ron Kirk is a positive development on two counts – and raises cautions on a third.
“One count of our core objectives has been met with these announced agreements – a prospective application of any change – meaning no retroactivity – while avoiding retaliation is certainly a very positive outcome,” Gerard said.
“Also positive is Ambassador Kirk’s confirmation that the U.S. will continue to pursue clarification of our rights within the WTO to apply zeroing, which is important to all companies and their workers who rely on conditions of fair trade in the U.S. We will be working with the Administration to see that the clarification happens as quickly as possible,” he added.
The USW President acknowledged there was no question that the modification will significantly undermine the historic ability of our antidumping duty law to address all injurious dumping. “U.S. manufacturers and their workers will be disadvantaged, which now makes clarification of such rights extremely important.”
Gerard said the USW will be monitoring how the changes are implemented and trusts that the Administration will rebalance the operation of U.S. law so jobs are not needlessly lost to international price discrimination. “This is a highly technical area of the law but, it has a huge impact on the jobs of our members,” he explained.
“The Administration has the opportunity to review and alter existing U.S. practices by reviewing our rights under international law and determining how we can alter our approach to address the predatory pricing of our competitors to implement our rights and fight for our producers and workers.”
Gerard emphasized: “Rebalancing must be a priority of the Obama Administration and of the Congress. No group has a greater interest in the vigorous enforcement of our antidumping law than the men and women who are employed in American manufacturing facilities.”
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/unitedsteelworkers/