U.S. Loses WTO Appeal In Dispute With Japan

World Trade Organization rejected Washington's final appeal in dispute over import duties on Japanese steel products and ball bearings.

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Trade Organization cleared the way Tuesday for Japan to seek trade sanctions against the United States, rejecting Washington's final appeal in a dispute over import duties on Japanese steel products and ball bearings.

The 96-page verdict says the U.S. has failed to change how it sets fees for goods it suspects are being sold at below-market value, despite previous rulings finding that Washington was violating international trade rules.

Japan can now ask the global trade body to authorize sanctions against American goods to force U.S. compliance. It said last year that the fees were costing Japanese industry $248.5 million each year.

"We are deeply disappointed with these findings," said Nefeterius McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington.

The U.S. has lost similar disputes with the European Union, Canada and others over how it determines antidumping fees for foreign goods.

Governments investigate dumping when they suspect foreign producers are exporting goods at artificially low prices -- usually as a result of subsidies or in an attempt to corner a market.

WTO panels have consistently found that the U.S. overestimates how far below market value imports are charged at, and as a result penalizes them with antidumping duties that are too high.

The three-member WTO appellate panel rejected the U.S. appeal on every point of contention.

McPherson criticized the panel for taking a "sweeping approach" to its investigation of U.S. compliance.

"The "WTO has overreached by inventing new obligations," she said.

The administration of President Barack Obama will now consult with members of Congress and other interested parties on what steps to take, McPherson added. She did not say if that meant Washington would implement the ruling's recommendations.

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