Steel Agreement

OECD Observer

Disagreements over steel protection have been a bone of contention between OECD countries for several months. Now, there may be agreement in sight as OECD countries have reached consensus on scrapping steel subsidies; it is a matter of agreeing on how to do so, and in particular, how to define what a subsidy actually is.

A thorny question, but of a kind that the OECD is familiar with, Wolfgang Hübner of the science, technology and industry directorate told a news conference after a steel meeting in Paris in September. “Definitions are something that we in the OECD have wrestled with in other areas” such as shipbuilding, Mr Hübner said. “That is not a new problem, we will have to deal with it when the time is right”.

Government and steel industry representatives will meet again in Paris on 18-19 December to discuss definitions of steel subsidies. It will also be up to this high-level meeting to decide whether the steel talks should remain in the OECD, or perhaps be moved to the World Trade Organization once preparatory work has been done at the OECD, Mr Hübner said.

At a meeting at the OECD in April, steel producers had said they expect to cut capacity by some 91 to 95 million tonnes by the end of 2002, with an additional 23 to 33 million tonnes expected to be permanently closed by 2005.

©OECD Observer No 234, October 2002

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