[EDITORIALS]U.S. Trade Commission Unfair

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[EDITORIALS]U.S. Trade Commission Unfair

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday ruled that the U.S. steel industry has been "seriously injured" by a rise in foreign imports, raising concerns among Korean exporters, not to mention the local steelmakers that ship $1 billion a year to the United States. The U.S. trade panel's ruling will likely lead to import curbs by the Bush administration.

We raise questions about the fairness of the U.S. trade commission's decision and believe that U.S. steelmakers should find the key to solving their problems within themselves, not from the outside.

The general view of the global steel industry is that U.S. imports of steel products have been declining for four years and that behind the slump and a chain of bankruptcies among U.S. steel companies lies the weakened competitiveness of the U.S. steel industry.

On the same day when the U.S. commission's ruling came out, the World Trade Organization decided that Washington's restrictions on imports of Korean steel pipes since March 2000 violates the rules of the international body. The ruling also suggests the unfairness of the decision by the U.S. trade panel. In short, the U.S. steel industry should restructure itself to solve its own problems and not seek higher import barriers.

The U.S. International Trade Commission will soon convene a public hearing with all parties concerned present, before forwarding "proper" recommendations for import restrictions to the Bush administration in mid-December. The period until then would be the only chance for Korea to present its cases.

Seoul must make all-out efforts to persuade members of the U.S. trade commission of the unfairness of curbing steel imports. The government should work its way through diplomatic channels and local steelmakers should cooperate with U.S. importers of steel products. If Washington chooses to resort to putting up import barriers despite such efforts, Seoul must take the issue to the World Trade Organization.

We hope the U.S. commission's ruling, which is not cogent, will not signal that the future trade policy of the United States as the world's biggest market will turn to protectionism.

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