UNITED STATES Why the WTO draft rules add up to a dead end for Doha

Feb 01, 2008 | 01:38 PM |

It was supposed to be a starting point. Now it looks like a dead end.

The draft text of World Trade Organization trading rules continues to face resistance, and a recent WTO panel ruling on the use of zeroing has thrown the Doha Round talks into further disarray.

In import duty decisions, zeroing does not give importers credit for products that enter the United States priced higher than their home market price. The practice increases anti-dumping duties in most cases, and the domestic steel industry has mounted a campaign to protect it.

At the end of November, Guillermo Valles Galmes, chairman of the rules committee, presented the much-anticipated document, which WTO director-general Pascal Lamy called "ambitious." That might have been the nicest thing anyone has said about it.

Doha skeptics, including U.S. steel manufacturers and Congressional Democrats, were quick to point out what they perceived as its flaws, saying it would weaken U.S. trade laws and leave domestic industry vulnerable to dumped and subsidized imports. Put another way, it would alter how U.S. companies file trade cases against foreign companies—a system that the steel industry has used frequently and successfully for decades.....

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