If you pledge, don’t hedge, Mr.Bush

It is very much typical of all-powerful America: first it spits in the face of the world’s steel producers, and then, without saying a word, it starts abolishing the atrocious tariffs. No matter how much US imperialists are puffed up, they can’t produce enough steel to satisfy their needs. In any case, a protective shield against Russian steel is seriously shaken now.

The US Administration introduced protective tariffs on steel import in spring as an encouragement for American steel producers that were on the verge of coming crisis. The decision caused something like a strong patriotic enthusiasm in the USA, that in its turn raised Bush’s rating. On the contrary, the rest of the world got angry at the USA. The European Union, the World Trade Organization, the European Commission and steel producers from all over the world attacked America with protests. Even now, when the USA has changed its opinion, offended Europeans are going to appeal to the WTO against the USA and strive for indictment against America.

US’s prohibitions entailed a chain reaction all over the world. Steel producing countries closed their markets for steel produced by their rivals. China increased steel import tariffs; the European Union was about to fuss, however, no cuts on steel import from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan were introduced there. The restrictions introduced by the USA turned out disastrous for Russian steel producers, however, some positive moments were also fixed at that. Russian steel producers demonstrated solidarity and patriotism against the US insolence. Severstal, the Magnitogorks Metallurgical Works and Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Corporation shared the quotas for steel supplies to the European Union and sent a delegation to inform the USA of their common position. However, US trade imperialism received a strong blow from the Russian sanitary and epidemiological board: officials from the RF Ministry for Agriculture announced, American poultry supplied to Russia didn’t satisfy the Russian state standards. Import of American poultry to Russia was banned. As a result of the prohibition, unemployment hit four American states.

An unexpected victory became an inspiration for the Russia government. Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref threatened in April before his visit to the USA that Russia would abandon the treaty on steel trade with the USA. When the minister arrived in the USA, the latter made concessions concerning import of Russian slabs and cold-rolled steel, but no changes were made concerning hot-rolled steel. The Russian minister, in his turn, eased Russia’s stance concerning import of American poultry. It is strange but other steel producing countries couldn’t come to an agreement with the USA (this is probably because they never imported American poultry, that is why they had no arguments to put forward). Next, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan filed actions against the USA to the WTO. Meanwhile, criticism directed against the US Government for highest tariffs never stopped on the international market all the time. Events on the world steel markets revealed an interesting detail: it turned out that the US metallurgy industry could not meet the county’s demand for steel. Moreover, traditional importers of steel are actively lobbying abolishment of the tariffs, because steel import is oftener cheaper for them.

The import lobby overpowered the protectionism lobby by August, and George W. Bush had no choice but cancel the tariffs. Majority of US steel producers disliked the cancellation. On the other hand, the action won praises from international economic organizations and the European Union to the US President. These organizations also add that import tariffs should be eased for other kinds of steel. But currently George W. Bush can’t afford to drop his rating so radically. The USA would have considered this problem if European partners financed the US’s offensive in Iraq. According to the New York Times, a quarter of steel imported in the USA will be supplied without any restrictions. So, is there anything American in Russia to ban for import? Kira Poznakhirko PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/08/23/46180.html

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