Russia agreed Monday to limit steel shipments into the United States, avoiding punitive tariffs that had been
sought by the U.S. steel industry.
The agreement was announced by Commerce Secretary William Daley.
He said it will mean a cut of almost 70 percent in Russian steel
shipments coming into the United States compared to their levels
"These agreements deliver on the administration's commitment to
respond vigorously to the surge in imports that has threatened the
livelihoods of communities and workers around the nation," Daley
said in a statement announcing the deal.
Russia initiated the discussions after the U.S. industry filed
complaints charging Russia, Japan and Brazil with "dumping" steel
in the United States at unfairly low prices.
The government earlier this month ruled that Japan and Brazil
were dumping steel in the United States and set preliminary tariffs
ranging up to 70 percent, a level that would effectively block
future imports of hot-rolled steel from those two countries.
Russia, hoping to avoid punitive tariffs, had entered into
discussions with the administration to suspend the tariff cases in
favor of an agreement by which Russia would voluntarily limit
exports in the future.
Under the deal reached between the two countries, Daley said
that Russia will roll back the level of hot-rolled-steel shipments
to their 1996 levels. The agreement will also cover other types of
steel and those shipments will be held at their 1997 levels, before
the Asian currency crisis sent shipments surging.
"All these actions are intended to provide much-needed relief
to the U.S. steel industry and workers, who have faced dramatic
surges in unfairly traded imports over the past year," Daley said.
However, the industry had been opposed to an agreement with
Russia because such a deal gives that country guaranteed access to
the huge U.S. market.
But the administration believed a negotiated agreement was the
best approach to take given the severe economic hardships being
faced by Russia, whose economy was pushed into a steep recession
last year by the currency turmoil that began in mid-1997 in Asia.