Thursday, December 4, 2003

Tariff effects discussed

By Martin Crutsinger
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The administration is searching for ways to soften the impact on the domestic steel industry if President Bush withdraws steep tariffs on imports as expected.

The proposals under consideration, industry officials say, include early reporting requirements to detect possible surges of steel into the United States.

The administration was expected to announce Bush's decision around midday today, barring last-minute snags, one administration official said on condition of anonymity.

Bush held a late-night meeting in the Oval Office with Vice President Dick Cheney, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick after returning Tuesday from a fund-raising trip to Pittsburgh where he encountered last-minute lobbying from the steel industry.

White House advisers are urging Bush to abandon the tariffs he imposed on various types of foreign steel in March 2002 in an effort to protect the U.S. industry, reeling from bankruptcies and the loss of thousands of jobs, from foreign imports for three years.

The World Trade Organization has ruled the tariffs violate global trade rules, and the 15-nation European Union and Japan are vowing to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products when the ruling becomes final later this month. The EU hit list targets $2.2 billion of products from orange juice to pajamas from politically important states such as Florida, California and the Carolinas.

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Tariff effects discussed
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