Monday, September 06, 2004

Dump Dumping, Redivivus: Amend the Byrd Amendment

The WTO is rightly yanking our chain over the infamous "Byrd Amendment." Now, you have to give him credit: Robert Byrd of WV moved to the "Vote for me, and I will give you other people's money!" platform years before the rest of the Democrats realized that, lacking actual ideas, they should do the same thing.

But this thing needs to go (the Amendment, I mean. Byrd....well, his continued success is explained by his "Porkman" superhero identity). (You might like CAGW's Byrd Droppings page). (And they say W smirks! Check this guy out....)

Interesting analysis (scroll to Aug 31, 2004 entry) by CATO's own Daniel Ikenson. An excerpt:

"By compensating petitioners and supporters of petitions, the Byrd amendment provides an additional financial incentive to file antidumping and countervailing duty cases,” remarked Ikenson. “Furthermore, by excluding from compensation those companies or unions not supporting the petitions, the law encourages companies that might otherwise decline to support petitions to do so simply to maintain eligibility for compensation.”

(Press release continues) While petitioning industries and their representatives tend to deny any linkage between the Byrd amendment and support for trade remedy petitions, the WTO case included as evidence a letter from a U.S. law firm urging a company to register
support for the countervailing duty case against lumber from Canada in order to qualify for Byrd amendment payouts.

“Despite opposition to the law at its inception from President Clinton and advocacy for repeal from President Bush, the U.S. Congress seems to have drawn a line in the sand over this issue,” Ikenson explained. “It is proving difficult to pry Congressional hands from a tool that allows them to quietly subsidize their business constituents. Unfortunately, the relatively low levels of retaliation authorized—about $150 million this year—will do little to inspire a change in that mindset.”

The dispute over the Byrd amendment is not an isolated event. There are a number of outstanding WTO rulings against U.S. laws and policies—including the Foreign Sales Corporation/Extraterritorial Income Tax provision and the Antidumping Act of 1916—that the United States has yet to implement. This mounting record of noncompliance must call into question the commitment of the United States to a rules-based trading system.

Those darned rules...they apply to everyone else, but not U.S., right?