The Administration strongly opposes H.J.Res. 84, which would
disapprove the President's decision to impose temporary safeguards
which will help give America's steel industry, steel workers,
and their communities the opportunity to adapt to changes in
the worldwide steel industry. This legislation wrongly replaces
the President's remedy provided under Section 203 of the Trade
Act of 1974, with the remedy recommended by the U.S. International
Trade Commission (ITC).
Free trade is an important engine of economic growth and a
cornerstone of the Administration's economic agenda. An integral
part of the Administration's commitment to free trade is our
commitment to enforcing trade laws. Consistent with this commitment,
the President launched an initiative designed to address issues
of concern in world steel markets, which included a "safeguard"
investigation under section 202 of the 1974 Trade Act of the
impact of imports on the U.S. steel industry. The ITC found
that increased steel imports caused or threatened serious
injury to the U.S. steel industry and recommended a remedy.
Global safeguard actions are expressly sanctioned by the rules
of the World Trade Organization.
As a result of the ITC investigation, the President announced
on March 5, 2002, a comprehensive three-year plan to help
the American steel industry and its workers get back on their
feet. This plan calls for imposing tariffs ranging from 8
to 30 percent on certain steel products. The safeguard measures
announced by the President will help our industry compete
with foreign steel producers, which have often been nurtured
by government subsidies that have allowed them to build huge
amounts of excess capacity and flood the U.S. market with
The President's remedy differs from the ITC's recommended
remedy and is tailored to address the industry's problems.
It is also flexible enough to meet our international obligations
and ensure that consumers are not unduly affected. First,
it gives the President the option of modifying the remedy
as appropriate. Second, it imposes a special tariff-rate quota
on slab to minimize disruption to steel operations that import
slab for use as a feedstock. Third, it excludes America's
four free trade agreement partners, and most developing countries,
which export limited amounts of steel to the United States.
These exclusions will be monitored to ensure consistency with
our goals for the recovery of the U.S. steel industry. Finally,
there is an ongoing process to evaluate and grant product
exclusions in order to minimize any harm to consumers.
To help hard-working Americans adapt to changing economic
circumstances, the President also has proposed a major expansion
of the National Emergency Grants program to assist workers
affected by restructuring with effective job training and
assistance. Help with health insurance costs will be available
to workers who lose their employer-provided coverage.
The President's actions can help restore the strength and
profitability of this very important American industry.