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U.S. Firms on EU Tariff List

Trade: Duties may be imposed against Ford, GE, others in retaliation for steel protections.

April 23, 2002|From Bloomberg News

General Electric Co., Motorola Inc. and Ford Motor Co. are among the companies whose products are targeted for planned tariffs by the European Union, according to a U.S. trade organization.

The EU's target list of $335 million in annual tariffs may impose import duties as high as 100% on U.S. imports such as clothing, footwear, steel products and citrus fruit in retaliation for U.S. tariff and quota protection for its domestic steel industry.

Products from Caterpillar Inc., Nike Inc., Reebok International Ltd., Levi Strauss & Co., Alcoa Inc. and DuPont Co. also would be targeted, according to a list compiled by the EU Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.

The American Chamber, a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, represents more than 130 U.S. companies operating in Europe.

"It's going to have a severe impact both politically and economically if the EU goes ahead," said Timothy Deal, senior vice president at the U.S. Council for International Business in Washington, which lobbies on behalf of companies, including General Motors Corp. and IBM Corp.

"It will really sour the transatlantic climate because the EU has jumped the gun."

The duties, which need the backing of the EU's 15 member states, may be imposed beginning June 18 if the U.S. refuses to offer the EU compensation for its steel tariffs.

The targets are drawn from a wider range of trade sanctions valued at $2.2 billion that the European Union may impose if the World Trade Organization rules against the U.S. tariffs, announced by President Bush on March 20. A final WTO ruling may take at least 18 months.

The list targets U.S. products for which there are alternative sources of supply to minimize the effect on European consumers, said European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy last week.

The U.S. already has threatened to challenge any EU attempt to counter its steel restrictions. It says such attempts would be illegal under WTO rules.

The EU says retaliation is allowed because the U.S. cannot prove that steel imports showed an "absolute increase" in recent years.

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