The International Trade Commission (ITC) on January 22 approved import duties on fuel shipments from France. The duties come at a time when trade problems between the USA and the European Union are again on the increase.
The ruling follows the Department of Commerce (DoC) decision in December that it would seek approval from the ITC to impose anti-dumping duties of 19.57% and countervailing duties of 13.21% — a combined total of 32.78% — on the French government-controlled firm Eurodif. The DoC dropped its anti-dumping investigation against British-Dutch-German consortium Urenco, but requested countervailing duties of 2.26% (see NEI January 2002, p3).
The ITC largely agreed with the DoC, but recommended final import duties totalling 32.10% on imports from France and duties of 2.23% on imports from the United Kingdom, Germany and The Netherlands. Provisional countervailing and anti-dumping duties have been applied to imports from the four countries since May and July, respectively, of 2001. The DoC is expected to issue its final duty order early in February.
The case arises out of investigations initiated by USEC in December 2000. The company claimed that its European competitors were selling enriched uranium at below the cost of production and benefiting from government subsidies.
Responding to the ITC ruling, USEC chief executive William H Timbers said the decision would "help ensure that the US enrichment market remains open for strong, healthy competition." Gary Fox, executive vice president of the US arm of Cogema, the majority owner of Eurodif, said: "Obviously we are disappointed. We think the decision is wrong." Urenco said it expected the application of the 2.23% countervailing duty would cease as of the end of 2002. Klaus Messer, CEO of Urenco, said: "We certainly do not accept that long-past subsidies leading to a countervailing duty of only 2.23% for the current year could be regarded as causing material injury to USEC. The troubles of USEC are of its own making." The company is considering whether to lodge an appeal in the Court of International Trade.
European Union trade commissioner Pascal Lemy said: "The EU is very disappointed and very concerned at these findings." He added: "It will now carefully examine these decisions and reserves its right to take the matter up with the World Trade Organisation."