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WTO sanctions on US goods

The European Union (EU) and its allies got the go-ahead from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) yesterday to slap potentially heavy sanctions on US goods in response to the latter's illegal anti-dumping rules. Diplomats said WTO arbitrators backed the EU and seven other WTO members in their demand for sanctions after the US failed to remove an anti-dumping law - the so- called Byrd amendment - repeatedly declared illegal by the Geneva-based body. 'We have won because the United States had argued that there should be no sanctions because they said there was no impact on trade from the (Byrd) measure,' said one diplomat from a country involved in the dispute. WTO arbitrators, who were asked to rule after the US decided to fight the sanctions request, set no fixed amount for the retaliation but laid down a formula which countries could apply. Named after its sponsor, US Senator Robert Byrd, the three-year-old amendment allows the US government to distribute money raised in anti-dumping duties imposed on foreign corporations accused of selling below cost price to the US firms which say they suffered from unfair competition, inforns the Straits Times. According to Xinhuanet, the United States said Tuesday it would comply with its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations, and the administration would work closely with Congress to do so in a way that supports American jobs and American workers. The US reaction came as the WTO ruled that the European Union could slap sanctions against the US amounting to 72 percent of thesums reaped from the law known as the Byrd Amendment. "The United States is committed to trade policies that ensure a level playing field for American workers and farmers," said Christopher Padilla, spokesman for the US Trade Representative's office, in a statement. "Today's determination will not affect the ability of the United States to continue enforcing its trade laws to impose duties on countries that sell unfairly dumped or subsidized products in the US market." The statement said that the Byrd Amendment "simply deals with how the funds collected from such duties are disbursed by the Treasury," and added that the WTO agreed with the US position thatclaims of damage to some countries "were grossly exaggerated." The U.S. collects fines against foreign exporters found to be selling products in the U.S. at artificially low prices. The so-called Byrd amendment -- named for its principal sponsor, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. -- gives U.S. companies that requested or supported the fines the right to receive some of the payments. The amendment has been controversial since it was first approved in 2001. Foreign companies have argued that the law is unfair because it amounts to a form of double punishment -- namely, they have to pay the fine and their competitors grow richer. The WTO said that eight countries -- Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Communities, India, Japan, Korea and Mexico -- are entitled to impose varying levels of sanctions on U.S. goods to recoup duties paid to U.S. companies, publishes SBC.MW.

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