Beset with concerns about future profitability, USEC of Bethesda, Maryland, asked the US government on 6 December to investigate whether Eurodif or Urenco, the two European uranium enrichment companies, are illegally dumping uranium product on the US market at below the cost of its production.
USEC charges that, contrary to US and international trade law, Eurodif and Urenco are pricing enriched uranium at below their cost of production and, in the case of Eurodif, below the prices that is charged in its home market. USEC further asserts that its competitors are benefiting from government subsidies in their home markets.
The petition asks the US Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission to conduct an investigation and to impose duties on future imports of enriched uranium from the two European enrichers sufficient to eliminate the unfair pricing.
According to USEC, the trade violations are enabling the European companies to increase their market shares in the USA, causing material injury to the US industry.
In the first half of 2000, USEC had 73% of the North American market for enriched uranium, compared with 13% for Urenco and 7% for Eurodif.
USEC said that favourable rulings by the Commerce Department and by the ITC would help to preserve a domestic uranium enrichment industry.
“Prescribed by statute and then reinforced as a matter of policy by Administrations from both parties, it is a basic tenet of national security that domestic uranium enrichment capacity be maintained. The action we are taking, under the trade laws, is necessary to ensure that this clearly enunciated policy goal is achieved and sustained,” said USEC president and CEO William H Timbers.
“In this case, dumping is illegal – it is contrary to US and international trade law, and it works against US national security interests. We cannot allow unfair trade practices to continue to adversely impact the US uranium enrichment business. After careful consideration, we are asking the federal government to investigate and to restore fair competition,” he said.
In a statement, Urenco chief executive said the action was “little more than an effort to choke off competition and monopolise the US market. We intend to meet our obligations to US customers and remain a presence in the US market for the long term. The company said that it intends “to defend itself vigorously against these allegations”.
If the Commerce Department agrees to open an investigation, the ITC would make a preliminary decision on USEC’s allegations of injury in early 2001. Final determinations by the two agencies would then be expected toward the end of 2001.