Chemical companies collected far less in 2003 than in the previous two years under a law that helps businesses whose foreign competitors ship underpriced imports into the U.S. Seven chemical firms collected about $1 million of the $190 million distributed by the government in 2003 under the Continued Dumping & Subsidy Offset Act of 2000, according to U.S. Customs & Border Protection. That compares with the nearly $14 million collected by 10 chemical companies in 2002 and $7 million awarded to six chemical firms in 2001. The U.S. government imposes duties on imported merchandise that it determines is dumped or benefits from unfair subsidies. The law, dubbed the Byrd amendment after its author, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), allows U.S. companies that are financially hurt by these activities to collect the duties that their international competitors paid. After a challenge by seven countries and the European Union, the World Trade Organization determined that the Byrd amendment constitutes an illegal subsidy. The challengers in January asked WTO to allow them to impose millions of dollars in trade sanctions annually against the U.S. because of the Byrd amendment (C&EN, Feb. 2, page 20).