GENEVA, Apr 18 (Reuters) The World Trade Organisation's highest court today ruled that some methods used by the United States to decide whether foreign goods are being dumped break global trade rules.
The Appellate Body, in a published ruling, overturned a previous decision by a WTO panel of judges which had largely sided with Washington in the dispute with the European Union over a practice known as ''zeroing.'' ''Today's ruling is a positive step in establishing a level playing field in transatlantic trade,'' EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said in a statement.
The EU dispute had challenged 31 separate determinations of anti-dumping duties applied by the United States using the zeroing formula, as well as the methodology as such.
Several hundred million dollars of trade volume was involved in the dispute, which covered products such as steel, pasta, ball bearings and chemicals, the EU said in a statement.
In most of the cases no anti-dumping duty would have been imposed if the United States had not used zeroing procedures to determine the scale of dumping, the EU said.
The United States uses a range of prices of imported goods to determine whether they are being sold at below the cost of production in their own country, and therefore being dumped.
But it excludes those cases in which the exported price is actually higher. And it is this practice, known as ''zeroing'' in trade jargon, that the EU complained about.
The prior ruling had found the United States was on safe ground with its practice of zeroing, in which duties are levied against producers whose exports are cheaper than those sold at home, without offsetting the rate for the cases when the opposite was true.
Neena Moorjani, a spokeswoman for the Office of the US Trade Representative, said the United States was ''deeply troubled'' by today's ruling, which she said was difficult to reconcile with other anti-dumping regulations.
''We strongly disagree with the Appellate Body's findings and intend to pursue this issue in the rules negotiations taking place as part of the Doha Development Round,'' she said, referring to the WTO's free trade negotiations.
The Appellate Body's decision is final and cannot be appealed, although the United States will be given time to abide by the verdict.
REUTERS SC PM0101