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United States steel moves "disappointing"

The United States' International Trade Commission decision to ask President George W Bush for safeguard tariffs of up to 20 per cent for four years on steel imports from New Zealand was disappointing, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

It was the New Zealand Government's view that there was no legitimate basis for the imposition of import restrictions of any kind on steel imports from New Zealand, Mr Sutton said.

He called on President Bush to ensure any safeguard remedy should be carefully crafted to focus on the root problems facing the United States steel industry, and allow for the mutually beneficial trade between our two counties to continue at historical levels.

Mr Sutton said the small but steady trade in steel with the United States was of substantial interest to New Zealand exporters.

"While the New Zealand Government recognises the need for the US steel sector to adjust to changing world market conditions, it does not consider that this should be at the expense of unsubsidised imports through the imposition of import restrictions."

Mr Sutton said that once President Bush made his decision on any safeguard measure, local steel companies here would be consulted by trade officials to work out exactly how much the proposed measure might affect New Zealand exporters.

He said the World Trade Organisation agreement on safeguards required that safeguard measures be applied only to the extent necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury and to facilitate adjustment.

ENDS


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