The United States is trying to find a way to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling against its anti-dumping procedures without damaging its ability to curb unfairly traded imports, a top U.S. trade official said.

“We’re trying to strike the right balance between being WTO compliant, but still making sure our trade law remedies are not damaged in the process. That’s not an easy path to maneuver,” Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez told reporters.

The United States is under pressure to find a solution because the European Union has threatened to slap sanctions on hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. exports if Washington does not comply.

WTO rules allow member countries to impose extra duties on goods sold at below market or “dumped” prices that hurt domestic producers in the importing countries.

Calculating the anti-dumping duties typically involves comparing prices for different batches of imported goods to come up with an average dumping margin.

But the WTO has repeatedly ruled against a U.S. practice known as “zeroing” to calculate anti-dumping duties.

The method essentially ignores—or treats as zero—any sales of imported goods priced that are higher in the United States than in the home market.

Critics say that leads to higher anti-dumping duties than otherwise would be imposed.

The United States has scaled back it use of zeroing in new investigations, but not in administrative reviews of existing anti-dumping orders.

The U.S. Commerce Department recently sought public comment on switching to a system of calculating anti-dumping duties more in line with procedures used by the European Union, Canada, Australia and most other countries.

Under that so-called “prospective” method, the Commerce Department would establish a floor price or fixed duty rate that would be good until the next review period instead of the current “retrospective” system of examining past prices and then assessing duties.

The U.S. government would rather find an administrative way of complying with the ruling than seek a legislative change, Sanchez said. (Reuters)