The US announced today the full and immediate termination of its steel safeguards. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said: “I am pleased to see that after nearly two years of litigation, the US has decided to abide by their international obligations by lifting the illegal safeguards. EU steel producers and workers will be relieved, as will those in the seven other countries which stood together with the EU in contesting these measures. But more importantly, this is a test case of how important is a rules-based international trading system for all of us”. He also added : “We should now concentrate our efforts in the OECD steel talks to cut down trade distorting subsidies and global excess steel capacity, which is at the root of the problems by the US steel industry”.
The repeal of the steel safeguards is combined with the introduction of a surveillance mechanism. The EU will closely monitor the situation to ensure that this mechanism is applied in full conformity with WTO rules.
On 5 March 2002, the US adopted safeguard measures on imports of certain steel products in the form of additional tariffs up to 30% which entered into effect as of 20 March 2002. The EU, together with by Japan, Korea, China, Switzerland, Norway, New-Zealand and Brazil, immediately challenged these measures in the WTO. The Panel reports of 11 July 2003 and the Appellate Body report of 10 November 2003 upheld the complainants arguments that the US steel safeguards are in violation of WTO rules.
On 14 May 2002, the EU notified to the WTO that it reserved its right to re-balance the adverse effect of the US steel safeguards. On 13 June 2002, the Council unanimously adopted a re-balancing regulation, providing for the automatic application, 5 days after the condemnation of the US measures in the WTO, of additional duties on $ 2,243 million of US exports to the EU. This regulation also provides that the Council shall decide on the basis of a proposal from the Commission on the repeal of the re-balancing measures once the US steel safeguards are lifted.
On 4th December 2003, the US announced the full and immediate termination of its steel safeguards.
Now that the US safeguard measures have been terminated in full, the EU will immediately take the necessary steps both to repeal the EU counter-measures and to terminate the EU safeguard measures which were adopted in March 2002 to guard against the risk of a flood of steel imports as a result of the US safeguards.