Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Morning Briefing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Morning Briefing

Article excerpt

WTO PANEL RULING: U.S. STEEL DUTIES ARE ILLEGAL

In a stinging rebuke to the United States, the World Trade Organization ruled yesterday that heavy duties on steel imports imposed by the Bush administration violate global trade rules.

Washington immediately said it would appeal, and would keep in place the tariffs that President Bush had justified as necessary to protect domestic steel producers against a flood of cheap imports during a restructuring period.

In response, the European Union stepped up plans to impose $2.2 billion in retaliatory duties on U.S. imports, ranging from footwear to fruit and vegetables -- possibly pricing them out of the market.

A three-member panel of trade experts said in a 968-page ruling that the "safeguard" duties of up to 30 percent introduced by the United States in March were out of line with WTO rules. That confirmed an interim ruling issued earlier this year and upheld complaints filed by the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Switzerland, China, New Zealand and Brazil.

CUBA, TEXAS PORT SIGN SHIPPING AGREEMENT

Cuba signed its first strategic shipping agreement with a U.S. port on Thursday and a Port of Corpus Christi official said the act could help erode the long-standing U.S. embargo of Cuba.

While Cuba has operating agreements with 11 other U.S. ports, the Corpus Christi deal is the first "agreement on strategic work" that sets out plans for future activity, said Pedro Alvarez, chairman of Cuba's food import agency, Alimport.

It calls for initial bulk shipments followed by development of refrigerator and container shipping.

The Jacksonville Port Authority has no such agreement with Cuba. However, Jacksonville's Crowley Liner Services sends shipments to Cuba every 10 days from Jacksonville, and three times a week from Gulfport, Miss., according to Crowley's published schedule. …

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