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December 19, 2002
  Contact: Julie Cram
(202) 482-3809
In Paris: 011-33-06-09-67-22-88

U.S. Hails Outcome of OECD Steel Meetings
Major Steel Producing Countries Formally Launch Talks Aimed at Reducing Subsidies in the Global Steel Market

Under Secretary of Commerce Grant Aldonas and senior government officials from major steel producing economies today agreed to formally launch talks to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, government subsidies that have distorted the global steel market for decades. The agreement was reached during the Fifth High-Level Meeting on Steel at the OECD in Paris.

"We were given a clear mandate from President Bush to produce significant results in solving the underlying problems of the global steel industry - namely government intervention in the market that leads to over-capacity of steel in the global marketplace," said Aldonas. "What this represnts is a political commitment made by the world's major steel producing nations to reach a subsidies agreement on steel."

In addition, the group looked at ways industry restructuring could be accelerated to
reduce inefficient excess capacity in the steel market.

In a communique released by the OECD, the High-Level Group agreed and committed to the following:
On closing steel capacity and industry restructuring:

  • a more rigorous peer review process, including improvements to ensure more accurate, complete and timely reporting;
  • review suggested options for helping to facilitate permanent steel plant closures.

On subsidies and other government supports:

  • in 2003, develop the elements of a subsidies agreement that could ultimately be negotiated in the WTO;
  • consideration of a voluntary commitment to refrain from introducing new subsidy programs to maintain or enhance capacity.

Aldonas further stated, "I applaud the EU and other participants for their commitment to reach a consensus. In particular, I would like to recognize our NAFTA country partners for their outstanding leadership in advancing our cooperative efforts. I would also like to thank the global steel industry for their support, and encourage their increased and focused involvement in the coming months as we work to develop a sound framework for a subsidies agreement."

The issues discussed at the OECD meeting and the conclusions reached by the participants are summarized in a communique that was accepted by all of the countries, which was published on the OECD website: http://www.oecd.org/.

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