Canada imposes tariffs on U.S. steel imports

January 30, 1993|By New York Times News Service

TORONTO -- The Canadian government imposed provisional tariffs on steel from the United States yesterday, two days after the United States imposed steep duties on Canadian steel imports.

Canadian officials insisted that the proximity of the decisions was coincidental. But they left little doubt that their investigation of unfair trade by American steel makers was a tit-for-tat reaction to similar moves by Washington in relation to Canadian steel imports.

Canada and the United States both took action against imported steel that they say is sold in their markets at prices below what it fetches in the country of origin. The practice is known as dumping.

Canada's action, which placed tariffs ranging from 4.5 percent to 124.2 percent on American steel, was also an effort to bolster Canada's case to recognize the integrated nature of the North American steel market and help reduce the threat of further conflicts.

Canada's trade minister, Michael Wilson, spoke against "the counterproductive nature of both countries taking anti-dumping action against imports from each other." He said a steel pact between the nations might be able to "short-circuit the whole business."

For now, the Clinton administration appears to be rebuffing Canadian efforts to obtain a two-way accord on steel. Marshall Casse, the American minister-counselor for economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, said the United States preferred an agreement involving more nations.

"We think that's a better approach to improve the climate for trade in steel than the proposed bilateral, sectoral arrangement between the United States and Canada," he said.

The two countries are each other's biggest steel customers. American exports to Canada in 1991, at 1.7 million tons, were a quarter of total exports of 6.3 million tons.

Imports from Canada, at 2.9 million tons, the same year were nearly

a fifth of total imports to the United States of 15.7 million tons in 1991.

In their enforcement actions, the two countries also acted against other suppliers engaged in what they say is unfair pricing.

Canada placed tariffs on steel from Germany, France, Italy, New Zealand and Britain, in addition to the United States. The Commerce Department named Canada on Wednesday, along with 18 other countries.

Eleven U.S. steel makers were singled out for the punitive duties. Those found to be most seriously at fault were Advance Steel Co., Kasle Steel Corp., McLouth Steel Corp. and Sharon Steel Corp., which were assessed duty increases of 124.2 percent.

The Commerce Department's determination had set duties as high as 68 percent on steel imports from Canada.

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