President Bush is reviewing U.S. steel tariffs following Monday's ruling by the World Trade Organization that those duties violate international trade laws. America is facing European trade sanctions if those tariffs are not lifted.
President Bush says he imposed those tariffs last year to protect American steel manufacturers from foreign imports so they could restructure the industry to be more competitive. Asked about this week's WTO ruling, Mr. Bush said those duties are now under review.
"The decision was based upon the International Trade Commission's finding that our industry had been harmed," he said. "And therefore, I imposed some tariffs in order to allow for a restructuring of the industry. I'm in the process of reviewing the extent to which the industry has been restructured. I'm going to make a decision within a reasonable period of time."
The president is under international pressure to end those tariffs as the European Union, China and Japan are all considering retaliatory action including bigger tariffs on billions of dollars worth of U.S.-made products.
More than $2 billion worth of European trade sanctions could begin in December if the president does not lift U.S. steel tariffs.
He imposed those duties to support steel-producing states that were losing jobs to cheaper imports, but those tariffs have brought complaints from American manufacturers who use steel, including automakers, because they are paying higher prices for their raw materials.
Washington is also facing possible European Union action over a WTO ruling against U.S. overseas tax shelters. Sanctions that could ultimately total four billion dollars may gradually be imposed on American exports beginning next March if Congress does not change the tax shelter law by the end of the year.
The White House says President Bush is strongly urging both the House and Senate to pass legislation complying with the WTO decision to avoid what could be crippling trade sanctions at the start of an election year.