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GENEVA — The European Union moved on Thursday to slap $28 million in import sanctions on U.S. products, charging that Washington has dragged its feet in repealing a law that the World Trade Organization found to be in violation of global commerce rules more than a year ago.

The law, known as the Byrd Amendment, compensates U.S. companies that are hurt when foreign firms sell goods into the U.S. market at below cost or less than their price in the home country, a practice known as dumping. The law calls on the U.S. to collect antidumping duties and pay the money collected to the affected U.S. companies.

While the WTO allows importing countries to impose punitive tariffs on dumped goods, it ruled the U.S. cannot pay the money it collects through those tariffs directly to injured firms.

Several apparel categories would be affected by the 15 percent tariffs beginning May 1, including most classes of man-made fiber or cotton pants and shorts. The EU also published a reserve list of additional categories on which it might impose additional duties if the amendment is not repealed by Congress. The list includes cotton sweaters, women’s and girls’ cotton shirts, cotton dresses and jeans.

A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement, “We’re disappointed that this step is being taken. The U.S is working to comply with the WTO decision regarding the Byrd Amendment.”

The Bush administration on March 3 introduced legislation in the House to repeal the Byrd Amendment, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Linnet Deily told WTO delegates last week.

The U.S. legislation was found in breach by a WTO panel in September 2002, a ruling upheld by the higher WTO appellate body in January 2003. Last November, a WTO arbitration panel gave the EU and seven other countries the go-ahead to slap retaliatory punitive tariffs on the U.S.

Between 2001 and 2003, the U.S. collected about $728 million in duties under the provision, which was then paid out to U.S. companies.

Apparel classifications account for 10 of the 18 products facing the punitive duties, with some paper, agricultural and machinery products also getting a hit.

This story first appeared in the April 1, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

GENEVA — The European Union moved on Thursday to slap $28 million in import sanctions on U.S. products, charging that Washington has dragged its feet in repealing a law that the World Trade Organization found to be in violation of global commerce rules more than a year ago.

The law, known as the Byrd Amendment, compensates U.S. companies that are hurt when foreign firms sell goods into the U.S. market at below cost or less than their price in the home country, a practice known as dumping. The law calls on the U.S. to collect antidumping duties and pay the money collected to the affected U.S. companies.

While the WTO allows importing countries to impose punitive tariffs on dumped goods, it ruled the U.S. cannot pay the money it collects through those tariffs directly to injured firms.

Several apparel categories would be affected by the 15 percent tariffs beginning May 1, including most classes of man-made fiber or cotton pants and shorts. The EU also published a reserve list of additional categories on which it might impose additional duties if the amendment is not repealed by Congress. The list includes cotton sweaters, women’s and girls’ cotton shirts, cotton dresses and jeans.

A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement, “We’re disappointed that this step is being taken. The U.S is working to comply with the WTO decision regarding the Byrd Amendment.”

The Bush administration on March 3 introduced legislation in the House to repeal the Byrd Amendment, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Linnet Deily told WTO delegates last week.

The U.S. legislation was found in breach by a WTO panel in September 2002, a ruling upheld by the higher WTO appellate body in January 2003. Last November, a WTO arbitration panel gave the EU and seven other countries the go-ahead to slap retaliatory punitive tariffs on the U.S.

Between 2001 and 2003, the U.S. collected about $728 million in duties under the provision, which was then paid out to U.S. companies.

Apparel classifications account for 10 of the 18 products facing the punitive duties, with some paper, agricultural and machinery products also getting a hit.