Bye, Bye Byrdie?
House passes repeal of the Byrd Amendment, but Senate action is ''uncertain''
WASHINGTON, DC - 11/22/05 - The US House of Representatives has passed a repeal of the so-called Byrd Amendment, which mandates the corporate distribution of anti-dumping duties revenue, a practice ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization (WTO), reports the Washington File.
By a vote of 217-215, the House passed November 18 the repeal provision as part of a larger legislative package for reducing the federal government budget deficit.
Final passage of Byrd Amendment repeal remains uncertain as the Senate version of the bill has no such provision.
Before Congress can send a final bill for the president's signature, House and Senate conferees must work out many differences, including the anti-dumping law provision.
The Byrd Amendment - named after its major sponsor Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) - is formally called the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act.
Passed as part of an agricultural spending bill in 2000, the controversial Amendment authorizes payment of anti-dumping duties revenue to US-based companies that have petitioned the government to investigate imports allegedly dumped on the US market.
In 2003, a WTO dispute-settlement panel ruled that the Byrd Amendment violates a WTO agreement, which does not allow such payments as part of a trade remedy for dumping.
Before passage of the Byrd Amendment, the US Treasury received all anti-dumping duties revenue. Repeal of the amendment would restore that practice, reducing the federal deficit by about $3.2 billion over five years.
Dumping is the import of goods at a price below the home-market or a third-country price or below the cost of production.
The Bush Administration has long requested repeal of the Byrd Amendment, but opposition to its repeal remains strong in Congress, especially in the Senate.
A statement issued November 17 reiterates the White House's position.
"The Administration strongly supports the provision that would repeal the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 and thereby terminate an unwarranted diversion of funds from the Treasury, while leaving in place US anti-dumping and countervailing duty remedies," the statement said.
"Repeal would also enable the United States to fulfill its World Trade Organization obligations and avoid retaliatory tariffs from our trading partners," it said.
The WTO has authorized imposition of retaliatory tariffs on US imports - up to about $134 million in duties for 2005 - by 11 US trading partners, including the European Union, Canada, and Mexico.
Part of the uncertainty about the outcome on Byrd Amendment repeal can be attributed to the influence of Byrd, who after 45 years is the senior senator. However, the measure needs only a simple majority to be passed by the Senate.
Democrats opposed to repeal argue that maintaining the Byrd amendment would give the US leverage in ongoing WTO negotiations.
Supporters of repeal counter that not complying with international obligations undercuts the US position in the negotiations.
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