EU Is Raising U.S. Sanctions to $37 Mln Over Company Handouts

Bloomberg.com
The European Union will raise its sanctions on some U.S. goods by a third on May 1 to retaliate against a law that illegally hands competitors’ customs duties to American companies rather than the U.S. Treasury.

The EU’s 15 percent sanctions will target eight additional U.S. imports including blankets and drills and cover $36.9 million worth of goods, an increase on the $27.8 million imposed for the past 12 months. […]

Congress agreed Feb. 1 to repeal the law, known as the Byrd Amendment, on Sept. 30, 2007. The law has given companies including Timken Co., Lancaster Colony Corp. and Nucor Corp. revenue from customs tariffs worth more than $1 billion since 2001. The distributions may be worth more than $2 billion over the next two years, the EU estimates.

“As a result of the United States’ failure to bring” its law into “compliance with its obligations under the WTO agreements,” the EU has the right to “adjust the level” of its sanctions in line with the duties paid by its companies every year, the European Commission said in the Official Journal of April 25.

Any handouts approved as late as September next year won’t be paid to the U.S. companies until 2009, the EU has said. The bloc says that until the disbursements stop, it’s entitled to slap levies worth 72 percent of the U.S. duties in retaliation, under the WTO ruling.

Under the Byrd Amendment’s rules, duties the U.S. Customs Service collects on goods deemed to be “dumped” at below- market rates into the domestic market are given to the U.S. companies that initially filed the complaints.

The EU’s new targets also include paper products and photocopying equipment, supplementing the current list of products such as textiles, machinery and sweet-corn.

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