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Customs Halts Some Imports of EEC Steel

November 30, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Customs Service said Friday that it has halted imports of steel pipes and tubes from the European Economic Community because the 10-nation group failed to formally approve an agreement limiting European shipments.

European approval of the Nov. 1 accord has been held up because Britain wants assurances that it can ship at least 300,000 tons of unfinished steel next year to a plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., according to a European source, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. The source said the British have an interest in the plant.

Stan Gustafson of the U.S. National Steel Fraud Program calculated that, of $1.5 billion worth of basic steel mill products shipped to the United States from the Common Market this year, only $200 million was in the form of sheets and tubes.

Hopes to Speed Up Pact

Gustafson added that there was no suggestion of any fraudulent practices in the European shipments, only a question of keeping within previously agreed quotas for shipments. His office keeps close watch on the shipments in case of violations.

"We hope this measure will speed up the agreement," he said in a telephone interview.

The order preventing entry or release of European steel to the U.S. market went into effect Thursday but was little noted because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Reagan Administration is trying to hold down imports of steel to preserve orders and jobs in the domestic steel industry.

Besides Britain, members of the Common Market include France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland and Greece. The other governments have approved the agreement. Britain stated its reservation when the agreement was made Nov. 1.

The agreement would extend through September, 1989, an accord due to expire by year-end. It slightly increases the shipments acceptable to the United States--to 5.5% of the total U.S. market from 5.4%.

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