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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 11, 2000


President Clinton today announced import relief for the U.S. steel wire rod industry, in response to increased wire rod imports that have resulted in substantial industry operating losses and other adverse effects. The relief is intended to help the steel wire rod industry adjust to import competition and return to profitability.

The action that the President has announced represents a clear statement of the Administration's commitment both to the vigorous enforcement of U.S. trade laws and to the application of international trade rules. The action is also consistent with the Administration's overall approach to the steel crisis.

The President's action, taken under the "safeguard" provisions of the 1974 trade act, responds to a report by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) which found that increased imports were a substantial cause of serious injury or threat of serious injury to the U.S. industry.

The import relief for steel wire rod producers will take the form of a "tariff-rate quota" (TRQ), which will go into effect two weeks from the issuance of a Proclamation, and will remain in place for three years. In the first year, steel wire rod from countries subject to the TRQ will face additional duties of 10 percent once imports exceed 1.58 million net tons. In the second and third years, the quantity of imports exempt from the higher duty will increase by 2 percent a year and the level of the surcharge will decline by 2.5 percentage points a year.

The import relief is crafted to ensure that U.S. industries that buy and use steel wire rod will maintain their global competitiveness, while at the same time assisting wire rod producers, and the 4,000 workers they employ, in their efforts to adjust to import competition.

The ITC will monitor developments in the industry during the period the relief is in effect, including industry efforts to increase its competitiveness. The Administration will ask the ITC to report at the mid-way point on how the relief has affected wire rod producers and downstream users.