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US House votes to repeal Byrd Amendment

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives voted Friday to repeal a trade program passed in 2000 which the World Trade Organization (WTO) [official website] has determined to be a violation of global trade laws [JURIST report]. The Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act [text], otherwise known as the Byrd Amendment, has paid competing US companies over $1 billion from duties collected on imports that the government considered to be unfairly priced or subsidized. The House voted to repeal the act as part of a larger package of budget cuts, but ending the program faces an anticipated debate in the US Senate which has approved its own set of budget cuts that do not include killing the Byrd Amendment. A report [PDF text] released earlier this year [JURIST report] by the Government Accountability Office [official website] revealed that almost $500 million of the payments went to only five companies and two-thirds of the total payments were made to just three industries - steel, bearings and candles. Eleven countries who trade with the US challenged the act at the WTO which mandated a 2003 deadline for repealing the measure. As a result of the US missing that deadline, the European Union [official website], Canada, Japan, and Mexico imposed a retaliatory measure [JURIST report] of approximately $115 million on US exports. US senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist [official website] earlier this month asking him not to give into House demands to kill the act. Reuters has more.

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