August 31,2004

Grassley on the WTO’s Ruling on the Byrd Amendment


To: Reporters and Editors
Re: World Trade Organization decision on Byrd amendment
Da: Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, today made the followingcomment on today’s news that the European Union, Canada, Japan, India, Brazil, Mexico, Chile andSouth Korea have received authorization from the World Trade Organization to retaliate against theUnited States in the Byrd amendment case, which involves the disbursement of U.S. antidumpingand countervailing duties assessed on imports.

“I’m disappointed that eight of our major trading partners have been authorized to retaliatein this case. And unfortunately, this is not the end of the story. Australia, Thailand, and Indonesiahave agreed to a December 27th deadline for us to comply. After that, they could seek similarauthorization to retaliate.

“This is an unfortunate development. But the Byrd amendment was slipped into anappropriations conference report without full debate in the Senate. The Finance Committee, as thecommittee of jurisdiction, never had a chance to review the amendment. I’m not surprised that a billthat was never considered by the committee of expertise or even the full Senate was found to violateour international commitments. That’s why we have committees -- to help make sure things like thatdon’t happen.

“Aside from the WTO ruling, there are a number of other problems with the way the Byrdamendment operates. For example, earlier this year the Congressional Budget Office issued a reportin which it found that, regardless of the economic harm that can be caused by retaliation, the Byrdamendment is detrimental to the overall economic welfare of the United States. An earlier reportissued by the Department of Treasury’s Inspector General found that the Bureau of Customs andBorder Protection made $25 million in overpayments when disbursing Byrd amendment funds. Thereport also faulted the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection because qualifying expendituresclaimed by domestic producers are not verified on a routine basis. So, there are a lot of problemswith the way this program functions that are totally independent from our WTO obligations.

“As I have before, I’ll work with the administration and my colleagues before deciding ournext steps. Of course, we need to comply with our WTO commitments, win or lose. That’s part ofexpecting other nations to comply when they lose cases that we bring. And even though we’ve lostthis case, it doesn’t affect our ability to use our antidumping or countervailing duty laws. Those arestill at our disposal.”

Here are links to the referenced reports.