20th Jun 2019

Japan ready to co-ordinate trade sanctions with the EU

Japan says it is ready to co-ordinate possible sanctions against the US with the EU and six other countries.

The move comes after the World Trade Organisation this week (31 August) ruled against Washington in a row over anti-dumping legislation.

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  • US steel manufacturers have been the primary beneficiaries of the Byrd Amendment (Photo: European Commission)

The Geneva based trade body upheld an EU complaint that US rules unfairly disadvantage foreign companies.

At the centre of the dispute is the three year old 'Byrd Amendment' - named after US Democrat West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd - which allows the US government to impose duties on foreign companies and then give the money collected to rival American companies.

Under the Byrd Amendment an estimated total $800 million has been diverted to American companies since 2001, according to the European Commission.

A total of US $231 million was distributed in 2001 and around US $330 million in 2002. In 2003 the distribution is estimated to have been about US $240 million.

US steel manufacturers belong to the main beneficiaries of the Byrd Amendment.

Action during autumn

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it hopes that the US Congress will accept the WTO ruling and repeal the Byrd Amendment as "early as possible" in response to the WTO recommendation.

The next steps could be taken as early as this autumn while the US is busy with presidential elections.

"In case the US does not repeal the Byrd Amendment, Japan, in cooperation with the co-complainants, will again lodge with the WTO an application for retaliatory measures in accordance with the decision as early as this autumn, a statement said.

The EU trade experts are expected to discuss the issue at a meeting on Friday next week (10 September).

The West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd attacked the WTO ruling as "outrageous."

"It represents yet another in a long line of obvious attempts by the WTO to limit the ability of the United States to enforce its own trade laws", he said in a statement quoted by the Washington Post.

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