WTO sets panel to probe US anti-dumping compliance

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GENEVA, Sept 25 (Reuters) The World Trade Organisation (WTO) set up a panel on Tuesday to investigate how the United States was complying with a previous ruling condemning U.S. anti-dumping practices.

The case turns a spotlight on the way the United States deals with imports it believes are being sold at unfairly low prices in the American market.

The European Union, which requested the panel, is complaining that the United States has not implemented the findings of a previous investigation into an anti-dumping complaint launched by the EU against Washington in 2003.

That case mainly involved imports of steel, but also included plastics and pasta.

The EU told the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body that Washington was still levying excessive anti-dumping duties in the cases it had challenged.

For example, it said that an Italian unit of German steel group ThyssenKrupp AG , and a U.K. subsidiary of Japanese ball-bearing maker NSK Ltd <6471.T> were being wrongly penalised despite the previous ruling.

U.S. officials told the WTO that Washington had complied fully with the previous ruling, and said some of the cases raised by the EU were not covered by the ruling -- something disputed by the EU.

Under WTO rules, if the export price of a product is lower than its price in the exporter's home market, then the product is said to be dumped.

The importer is entitled to levy an anti-dumping duty to compensate for this gap in price, known as the dumping margin.

Where an exporter is selling several products, the importing country calculates an average dumping margin. If some of these goods are sold at above the domestic price, the United States does not take that into account in calculating the average, but treats the difference as zero -- a practice known as zeroing.

Washington had agreed to implement the WTO's recommendations to bring its anti-dumping process in line with WTO rules. In July 2006 it agreed with the EU to do this by April this year.

REUTERS DKS ND1932

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