Friday, November 18, 2005

Fly away home

I'm not quite sure how this is an afterthought in the Globe's business section rather than a top headline:
The U.S. House of Representatives has dumped a contentious law allowing American companies to profit from penalties on imports from Canada and other countries.

The resolution to repeal the so-called Byrd amendment was included in a sweeping spending-cut bill...

The World Trade Organization ruled in 2002 that the amendment violates U.S. trade obligations. It allows the U.S. Treasury to funnel money from duties on imports directly to the American competitors involved.
Not that the rest of the bill is one worth being happy about. And the vote won't have any effect until the Senate agrees on a similar deal.

But those concerns aside, it's still a huge step for the House to vote to repeal the amendment which provided a double incentive for American businesses to challenge foreign government action. And it's particularly important for Canada, given that it's the Byrd amendment which would allow the U.S. to distribute the withheld tariffs to its softwood lumber producers.

I'm not so optimistic as to think this is the start of a general U.S. strategy of acknowledging the validity of international opinions and rulings. But with Bushco, we have to take what we can get.

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