Trade complaint ruling favours USEC

26 May 2001

The US Department of Commerce (DoC) has issued a preliminary ruling that Eurodif, the French company, and Urenco, the British-Dutch-German consortium, have benefited unfairly from government subsidies and should be required to pay countervailing duties on future exports to the US. The DoC set preliminary countervailing duty rates of 13.94% for Eurodif, and 3.72% for Urenco.

Although USEC had alleged subsidies of more than 20%, USEC senior vice president and general counsel Robert J Moore lauded the ruling. Moore said DoC has "taken another step toward confirming our assertions [that] European government subsidies have helped facilitate the sale of enriched uranium into the United States at unfair prices." Klaus Messer, ceo of Urenco, sharply criticised the DoC ruling and predicted it will be reversed once DoC reviews all the evidence in the case. "This case is about a competitor trying to protect itself from competition with the best technology," he said.

The European Union, meanwhile, is considering filing a counter-complaint with the World Trade Organisation if DoC does not reverse the ruling later this year. Pending a final DoC determination, the European companies must post a bond or pay a cash deposit in the amount of the preliminary countervailing duty rates.

The latest ruling applies only to the subsidy, or countervailing duty, investigation of USEC's trade complaint. On 5 July, the DoC will issue a preliminary determination as to whether Eurodif and Urenco have also illegally dumped enriched uranium in the United States at prices below their production costs. The anti-dumping complaint could result in DoC imposing additional duties.

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