The controversial law, known as the Byrd Amendment, which was passed into law in October 2000 and repealed in December 2005 is still paying money to US steelmakers claiming damage from imported steel and attracting retaliation measures from overseas exporters, according to the American Institute for International Steel (AIIS).

The law mandated that the government distribute all the anti-dumping and countervailing duties to the domestic industry. It was passed without congressional hearings and review as it was added in an agricultural appropriation in House/Senate Conference, in other words, but sleight of legislative hand by Senator Byrd, WV.

AIIS, CITAC and many other US interests immediately voiced opposition to the law and it was challenged at the WTO, where it was ruled to be against the US’s WTO obligations. The domestic industry successfully opposed the repeal of the law initially and so many overseas trading partners obtained WTO approval for retaliation. Industries not at all involved in the dispute, as well as steel exporters, were penalised. Protectionism always has costs to consumers and other innocent bystanders.

AIIS, CITAC and other groups finally got the law repealed at the end of 2005 with a termination date for entries subject to the law in 2007. The Byrd Amendment still covered all entries prior to that date. Given legal and other procedural challenges, especially as regards the DOC’s administrative review process, subsidy payments are still being made to domestic companies, including steel companies.

In August 2013 there was a report that as a result of the huge increase in Byrd Amendment payments, Japan was increasing its retaliation. The products listed as subject to retaliation were steel and steel related manufactured products including bearing products.

In 2012, the US government paid $118.7M in these subsidy payments for entries before 2007 and in 2013, $37.7M. While the majority of the payments went for aquaculture imports covered by trade cases, steel was well represented.

Source: AIIS