The European Commission welcomed a US decision on Feb. 2 to repeal a contentious antidumping trade law, known as the ‘Byrd Amendment,’ but expressed anger that the repeal was effective from September 2007, not immediately.

The US House of Representatives approved a budget bill on Feb. 1 that will end the Byrd amendment in October next year. Under the Byrd amendment, government revenues from anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties are given to US companies that brought the complaints.

In 2002, the World Trade Organization ruled the Byrd amendment, named for its sponsor Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.VA, violated international trade rules and authorized Canada, the EU, Japan, and Mexico to retaliate with tariffs on US exports of several categories of food products. Disbursements, which have totaled almost $1.3 billion since the law went into effect in 2001, will continue only up to Oct. 1, 2007.

‘That means that distribution of collected anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties to US companies will continue to distort the conditions of competition on the US market at the expense of imported goods for a number of years,’ the Commission said in a statement.

The Commission said it will review the details of the US action. ‘I think that this is a constructive step, although I regret that the US has chosen to provide a transition period rather than ending these payments at once,’ said EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. (Dow Jones)