US duties anger British Steel

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The Independent Online
BRITISH STEEL last night reacted furiously to the US Department of Commerce's anti-dumping measures, which will force it to pay 109 per cent duty on steel plate exports to the US.

BS will be forced to post a bond equivalent to the duty until it is finally confirmed or thrown out. The move follows a sweeping investigation into complaints about unfair competition from 80 US steel producers.

Four types of steel from 19 countries, seven of them European, are involved. Brazil, South Korea, Germany and France are accused of selling all four in the US at below the domestic price in 1991. The total value of steel affected is dollars 2.6bn ( pounds 1.7bn).

British Steel has been targeted only for steel plate, and says the amounts are insignificant. It exported 35,000 tons worth about pounds 7m in 1991, accounting for 0.7 per cent of the US market. It has attracted a punitive duty rate, however, because it refused to co-operate with investigators who were trying to determine its prices: the Commerce Department therefore selected the highest rate alleged by any of the US plaintiffs.

A BS spokesman said the company 'deplores this decision and will be contesting it'. He said the steel was exported under a quota agreement between the European Commission and the US, which was administered by the Commerce Department itself. Dumping implies that a product is sold for a lower price than at home but the spokesman said the UK steel was sold at 'the market price'.

European industry sources say that the US companies have taken action as a desperate measure to bolster their own positions.

British Steel said it will endeavour to get the ruling thrown out by the International Trade Commission.