Steel Tariffs To Be Lifted?Maybe
President could delay decision to drop tariffs
WASHINGTON, DC - 12/03/03 - Through White House sources say that advisors to President Bush have made no "formal recommendation one way or the other" on the issue, reports continue to circulate through Washington that a growing number of influential staffers are urging him to lift most - if not all - of the tariffs he placed on imported steel in March of last year.
An announcement may come this week, officials said, with others saying the President may not announce his decision until the mid-December deadline set by the World Trade Organization, which ruled last month ruled that the tariffs, which increased prices on various kinds of imported steel by 8% to 30%, violated global trade law.
The European Union, the most vocal international critic of the tariffs, has threatened to impose a record $2.2 billion in sanctions on US-made goods unless the steel tariffs are rescinded with Japan, Korea, Norway, Brazil, and several other countries also threatening retaliatory tariffs on a variety of non-related goods such as citrus fruit and Harley-Davidson motorcycles imported from the US.
When the President imposed the tariffs, which were supposed to be in place until March, 2005, he said they would give the US steel industry time to consolidate and become more efficient and globally competitive. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said an interim report on the tariffs' effects found restructuring underway.
Supporters of the tariffs said the President will pay politically if he decides to drop the tariffs.
''An awful lot of steelworkers voted for him. I can only imagine what their reaction will be,'' Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) told USA Today. ''Anybody in the steel business'this makes your job less secure.''
But lawmakers who oppose the tariffs cheered reports that Bush would ultimately wipe them out. ''The last thing our economy needs right now is a trade war,'' said Republican Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
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