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In Pursuit of Restrictions
Subject Trade restrictions on steel
Topic International Trade
Key Words Tariffs, Trade Restrictions, Trade Deficit, Economic Growth
News Story

The strong U.S. dollar has raised the price of our exports to foreign countries and lowered the price of their imports. As a result, Americans spend about $1 billion more than they produce and the U.S. trade deficit is the biggest ever recorded. The steel industry has been hurt especially hard by the strong dollar and has made a plea to President Clinton to impose restrictions on the import of foreign steel.

The flood of imported steel primarily from Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Russia has caused steel firms to lay off workers and push these firms near bankruptcy. The President of the United Steelworkers along with 75 steel industry executives signed a letter to President Clinton asking that the administration "take broad and comprehensive action against the flood of imported steel." Their objective was for the Mr. Clinton to use existing authority to temporarily reduce imports of steel.

In 1998, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Brazil flooded the U.S. market with steel. A subsequent investigation found that the Asian financial crisis, as well as problems in individual countries, were responsible for the increase. For example, Japan was faulted because Japanese steel manufacturers colluded to raise prices in Japan while dumping steel in the U.S. at below market value. The Commerce Department responded by raising tariffs and otherwise restricting imports in 45 steel cases.

industry officials claim that the "steel action plan" which the Administration put in place last year is not working. Although imports of steel fell in 1999, imports have once again risen to near record levels. The Clinton Administration released a report in July promising to monitor imports of steel.

(Updated December 1, 2000)

Questions
1.

What is a tariff? How do tariffs restrict imports?

2. What are other forms of trade restrictions besides tariffs? How do these other trade restrictions reduce imports?
3. If imports exceed exports, what happens to a country's balance of trade? Balance of payments? What affect should this have on the value of the dollar?
Source Doug Palmer, "New Import Limits on Steel Are Sought," The Washington Post, October 17, 2000.

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