The World Trade Organization has reportedly decided to authorize sanctions against the United States by the European Union and other leading U.S. trade partners in response to what the WTO deems to be illegal antidumping rules.
The ruling could be a potential major blow to the U.S. steel industry, which has received hundreds of millions of dollars handed out under the law, according to an Associated Press report. Other companies that could be affected include makers of pasta and candles.
A copy of the ruling seen by Dow Jones Newswires showed that the EU and other complainants will be authorized to fine the United States up to 72 percent of money collected under an U.S. antidumping law known as the Byrd Amendment, the Associated Press reported.
Named for its sponsor, Sen. Robert Byrd, the three-year-old amendment allows the United States to give U.S. companies money collected in fines against foreign exporters judged to be selling products in the United States at artificially low prices.
The WTO ruled the measure illegal in 2002, supporting claims that it punishes exporters to the United States twice, according to press reports. Exporters are fined, and then those fines are passed on to their competitors, according to the critics of the measure.
The WTO had reportedly given the United States until the end of last year to change the law. But Congress has yet to act even though the Bush administration recommended the amendment be repealed.