U.S. expected to signal hard line with steel-dumping sanctions

January 27, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration, in a decision that appears to signal a tough new policy on trade, is expected to announce today that it will impose sanctions against steel-exporting nations for dumping cut-rate steel in the United States.

The preliminary ruling opens the way for the imposition of stiff import duties on foreign-made steel and could spark price increases on a number of U.S. products, including automobiles and appliances made with imported steel.

Although the steel-dumping case was filed before President Clinton's election, foreign officials expressed concern yesterday that the decision denotes a new, hard-line approach to trade matters and an increased resolve to adhere to the letter of domestic and international trade law.

The two previous administrations had talked tough on trade but seldom followed through with aggressive enforcement of existing laws against unfair trading practices.

The Bush administration determined Nov. 30 that a dozen nations were heavily subsidizing steel exports to the United States, but findings on other questions in the case and a final decision on sanctions were not completed before George Bush left office last week.

The Clinton administration's ruling, which is subject to further review before it becomes final, marks a significant step toward erection of steep barriers to the importation of several widely used types of steel.

The complaints involve a total of 6.5 million tons of imported steel worth $2.5 billion. Total U.S. consumption of these types of steel is 45.5 million tons a year.

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