House Passes Bill Repealing 1916 Dumping Law WTO Ruled Illegal
Normal trade relations for Armenia, Laos among hundreds of provisions
12 October 2004
By Bruce Odessey, Washington File Staff Writer
Washington — The House of Representatives has given final passage to a bill
that would repeal a dumping law that was ruled illegal by the World Trade
Organization (WTO) and would extend permanent normal trade relations to
Armenia and Laos.
To become law the bill would have to be passed by the Senate and signed by
the president. Whether the Senate will consider the bill when Congress
returns November 16 from its election recess is not known.
Most of the 299-page bill, passed by the House late October 8 without
debate, comprises hundreds of tariff suspensions on imports of goods not
produced domestically and traded in small volumes.
Repeal of the 1916 antidumping law was slipped into the final version of the
miscellaneous tariffs bill by House and Senate negotiators even though
neither chamber had earlier passed such a provision.
The House Judiciary Committee had approved the provision, however, and U.S.
Trade Representative Robert Zoellick had urged its passage.
The WTO had ruled against the 1916 antidumping law, which was challenged by
the European Union (EU) and Japan. Under the law, never actually used from
1916 until the 1990s, U.S. companies can sue foreign producers for triple
damages for dumping goods on the U.S. market with the intent of injuring
To date no plaintiff has ever collected damages under the 1916 law. In May,
however, a U.S. federal court upheld a jury verdict ordering a Japanese
newspaper press manufacturer to pay its U.S. rival more than $30 million,
triple the damages from dumping as calculated by the jury. That case remains
The provision in the miscellaneous tariffs bill would repeal the 1916 law
but would not overturn any case already decided or pending under the law.
Whether Japan or the EU would accept such a nonretroactive change is not
The WTO had already authorized retaliation by the EU against any final
judgment ordered under the law against an EU company.
Another provision of the miscellaneous tariffs bill would grant permanent
normal trade relations for Armenia. Normal trade relations (NTR), otherwise
known as most-favored-nation treatment, prohibit discrimination among a
country’s trading partners. Armenia has had temporary NTR, approved year to
year by the president.
The bill would also extend NTR to Laos, bringing into force a 1997 U.S.-Laos
trade agreement. Laos remains one of only four countries worldwide and the
only least-developed country to which the United States does not extend NTR.
Miscellaneous tariff bills typically pass each session of Congress
routinely, but this one was held up over a succession of issues for three
years. One senator from a southern textile-producing state delayed Senate
action, for example, until he achieved a change requiring clearer
country-of-origin labeling for socks.
Following are some other provisions of the bill:
— A provision that would correct a mistake in the Trade Act of 2002 that
inadvertently raised duties on Andean handbags, luggage, flat goods, work
gloves and leather wearing apparel under the Andean Trade Preferences Act
— A provision that would clarify the African Growth and Opportunity Act
(AGOA), extending retroactively to October 2000 duty-free treatment for
collars and cuffs.
— A provision that would temporarily prohibit U.S. imports of
archaeological, cultural and other rare items from Iraq to prevent illegal
shipment of such antiquities.
— In line with a 2001 international agreement to eliminate testing of wine
for reasons other than health and safety, a provision that would amend U.S.
regulatory law concerning cellar treatment for both domestic and imported
The EU has refused to accept U.S. wine-making practices and has waived its
rules to allow wine imported from the United States but only through 2005.
Congressional negotiators have indicated they intended this provision as
leverage in U.S.-EU negotiations, which have achieved no agreement so far.
— A provision that would require the U.S. customs agency in the Department
of Homeland Security to establish integrated border inspection areas along
the U.S.-Canadian border. In these areas U.S. customs officers could inspect
vehicles before they entered the United States from Canada, and Canadian
customs officials could inspect vehicles before they entered Canada from the
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