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February 25, 2003
  Contact: Julie Cram
(202) 482-3809

International Group Confronts Distortions in the Steel Market
Produces Significant Areas of Agreement

Assistant Secretary of Commerce Faryar Shirzad and government officials from major steel-producing economies around the world concluded meetings today on elements of a steel subsidies agreement.

Shirzad chaired the third meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Steel Disciplines Study Group held February 24-25 in Paris. The meeting served as a follow-up session from the December High-Level meeting where an agreement was reached to formally launch talks to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, government subsidies that have distorted the global steel market for decades. Work began this week to develop the elements of a subsidies agreement that could ultimately be negotiated in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The two-day meeting began with an open session where industry was able to share their views on the global steel climate directly with members of the Study Group. The meeting continued with a discussion focused on each of the elements of a potential agreement.

"President Bush gave us a clear mandate to produce significant results in solving the underlying problems of the global steel industry, specifically government subsidies and over-capacity," said Shirzad. "I am very encouraged by the comments we heard this week on the elements to a subsidies agreement, and I appreciate the level of participation by both countries and industry. We made a great deal of progress on many elements that are important to a subsidies agreement, and I look forward to continuing our work on this on an expedited basis."

The OECD Secretariat has been directed to prepare text reflecting the discussions this week. Another meeting will be held in May to follow up on these discussions. The United States hopes to have much of this work completed in time for the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun in September 2003.

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