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European Parliament Head Questions U.S. Priorities

WASHINGTON — The president of the European Parliament on Friday chided U.S. lawmakers to act more swiftly to change a U.S. export tax subsidy to avoid the European Union levying punitive tariffs on $4 billion of U.S. products.<br><br>In the U.S....

WASHINGTON — The president of the European Parliament on Friday chided U.S. lawmakers to act more swiftly to change a U.S. export tax subsidy to avoid the European Union levying punitive tariffs on $4 billion of U.S. products.

In the U.S. Congress, “I haven’t been so impressed at the willingness to actually recognize that this is a very serious issue,” Pat Cox told members of a U.S.-Ireland business summit gathered here.

Cox said he expected the EU to decide by November whether to retaliate over the tax issue, one of two World Trade Organization dustups where the Europeans are threatening U.S. goods with sanctions. EU officials are now consulting with European government and industry officials about which American goods should face punitive duties over the dispute.

Cox and other European officials have said the EU won’t retaliate if the U.S. is making progress in changing the tax break. However, Cox expressed frustration that a legislative fix is “stuck somewhere in the congressional conveyor belt” and appears not to be a priority.

American lawmakers have said a change in the U.S. tax code will occur, although it doesn’t appear forthcoming — Congress is set to adjourn for the year next month.

“This is a moment where people who believe in free trade and who believe in the open economy that goes with it have to take a vigorous stand,” said Cox, who represents Ireland in Parliament.

This story first appeared in the September 9, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.