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EU Delays Trade War Over U.S. Steel Duties

July 20, 2002|From Reuters

The European Union on Friday put off a trade war with the United States by a month, delaying a decision to impose sanctions worth more than $300 million in a row over heavy U.S. steel duties.

The EU's 15 ambassadors unanimously agreed to the delay after Washington offered 11th-hour concessions. The bloc's foreign ministers now are expected to endorse the recommendation at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

But the European Commission, which had proposed holding off on the sanctions, said Washington needed to do more.

"There was a strong positive signal from the Americans, and we have responded to that," Peter Carl, trade director in the EU's executive arm, said. "We have decided not to pull the trigger."

He was speaking after the commission told EU ambassadors it did not now recommend applying sanctions in August as a result of President Bush's decision in March to slap heavy duties on steel imports. Bush, whose tariff move provoked fury among his country's trading partners, has said he will make final decisions by Aug. 31 on how much steel to exempt from duties.

In Washington, the U.S. trade representative's office said the new exemptions--offered hours before the European Commission made its recommendation--covered an additional 14 foreign steel products, for a total of 261 since the start of June.

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