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GAO Examines Impact of Byrd Amendment

October 3, 2005 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 83, Issue 40

A law that has the U.S. in hot water with the World Trade Organization is providing a windfall to a few companies but not to industry overall, says a Sept. 26 report by congressional investigators. Chemical manufacturers have collectively received tens of millions of dollars under the Continued Dumping & Subsidy Offset Act (C&EN, Dec. 6, 2004, page 6). This amount, says the report (GAO-05-979) by the Government Accountability Office, is significantly less than the hundreds of millions of dollars collected by makers of ball bearings under the law, which is also called the Byrd amendment after its sponsor, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.). GAO calculates that, between 2001 and 2004, the U.S. Customs & Border Protection office paid more than $1 billion from import duties to companies under the Byrd amendment provisions. Almost half of this total was paid to just five companies. DuPont ranked 12th among recipients of Byrd amendment funds, collecting nearly $12.5 million through 2004, GAO adds. The Byrd amendment directs Customs & Border Protection to give the tariffs it collects on imports sold at below-market prices to the U.S. companies that file complaints about this “dumping” by foreign competitors. WTO says the law is illegal under international trade rules. This year, Canada, the European Union, Japan, and Mexico imposed WTO-approved duties on some U.S. exports in retaliation for the Byrd amendment.


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