Thursday, December 04, 2003

What happened to "Bring 'em on."?

So Dubya found a war he didn't want to fight.

Trade War Averted After Bush Drops Steel Tariffs

TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japan and Europe dropped threats of tit-for-tat trade retaliation after President Bush scrapped controversial steel tariffs ahead of schedule, risking a political backlash at home.

Despite possible political damage ahead of next year's presidential election, Bush offered little to cushion the blow to U.S. steel makers and workers, who accused the Republican president of "capitulating to European blackmail."

In announcing the decision Thursday, Bush did say he would keep in place an existing system to license and track steel imports so that he could "quickly respond to future import surges that could unfairly damage the industry."

Minutes after Bush's about-face, the European Union suspended plans for retaliatory sanctions against $2.2 billion in U.S. goods, including politically sensitive products such as citrus fruits from Florida.

Japan also said it would drop a threat to impose retaliatory tariffs on $458 million of U.S. goods, but added that it wanted to make sure the U.S. tracking system did not impede trade.

"We hope that the United States will continue to abide by World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and play a leading role in maintaining free trade," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a news conference Friday.

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