Brad DeLong today quotes from a piece from the Wall Street Journal (the rest being locked in pay per view) about yesterday’s WTO decision to uphold its earlier finding that US steel duties of up to 30%, imposed last year to protect US steel producers restructuring, are illegal because the US never proved that their industry had in fact been harmed by cheap steel imports and also because of a number of other, more legalistic, reasons.
Consequently, Pascal Lamy, EU trade commissioner, announced that the EU would impose up to $2.2 billion in sanctions should Washington not withdraw the tariffs within 35 days. One can certainly discuss the benefit of such retaliatory measures in general. But their specific nature is far more interesting, in my opinion. Especially given that the 2004 US electoral map was the main driving force behind the White House’s decision to impose the tariffs in the first place.
“To increase political pressure, many of the products targeted are produced in swing states that would be crucial to Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign next year. The White House is facing heavy political pressure in the dispute, especially from steel-producing states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, where campaigners want the tariffs kept in place. Representatives of industries that would be targeted by the EU’s sanctions, as well as big steel users in the U.S., have argued against the tariffs…” (from the WSJ ).
French farmers and American steelmakers – different continents, same problem? Or is there something particular about the global external effects of the US Electoral College?