Victory for EU as Bush abandons steel tariffs

The Bush administration lifted its 20-month-old tariffs on steel imports yesterday, bowing to international pressure and the threat of a global trade war. The tariffs were ruled illegal last month by the World Trade Organisation.

The White House presented the decision in purely domestic terms as reflecting the current recovery of the US economy, which rendered the tariffs - initially supposed to run for three years - unnecessary.

Officials insist the tariffs, of up to 30 per cent on some items, had protected the troubled troubled domestic steel sector as it reorganised. The President, George Bush, said in a statement: "These safeguard measures have now achieved their purpose, and as a result of changed economic circumstances, it is time to lift them."

Foreign reaction was one of deep satisfaction. Digby Jones, head of the CBI, said businesses on both sides of the Atlantic would "breathe a huge sigh of relief at the climbdown".

Robert Zoellick, the US Trade Representative, claimed the industry's general situation had improved greatly since Mr Bush imposed the tariffs. Sales of domestic steel and company profits were sharply up.

In reality, however, the White House found itself staring down the barrel of an international trade war, as European and Asian countries threatened punitive action unless the tariffs were removed in their entirety by the WTO deadline of 15 December. Mr Bush has now complied, despite pressure from the steel industry that at least some tariffs be maintained.

In an attempt to soften the blow for domestic steel makers, the Commerce Department announced it would step up its monitoring of steel imports. The administration is also pledging to work for an elusive global agreement limiting national subsidies to the steel industry and to curb over-capacity.

But industry sources said both steps are little more than a fig-leaf.

Yesterday's move was recognition that the tariffs were an embarrassment for an administration that never misses a chance to extol the virtues of free trade and the WTO, or to urge poorer countries to open up their markets to imports.

Charges of US hypocrisy on steel and farm subsidies contributed to the collapse of September's WTO talks in Cancun, Mexico, which had been intended to breathe new life into negotiations for a new global trade round.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory