U.S. trade official seeks restraint from steel firms


TOKYO -- U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills has asked U.S. steel makers to refrain from filing suit against Japanese steel producers on dumping allegations to calm the waters ahead of the possible resumption of talks on the Multinational Steel Agreement, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said today.

Ms. Hills met with the chairmen of USX Corp., Bethlehem Steel Corp., LTV Corp., England Steel and Armco Inc. earlier this month to discuss the issue, the paper said.

Multinational Steel Agreement talks could resume any time, but a specific date hasn't been set, said an official of Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

The U.S. Commerce Department ruled last month that six countries are selling standard steel pipe at unfairly low prices in the United States.

Bethlehem Steel, which operates the Sparrows Point steel mill in Baltimore County, and Inland Steel Industries Inc. filed petitions April 13 alleging unfair trade practices by producers of specially made steel bar and rod products in Brazil, France, Germany and Britain.

The petitions came weeks after import quotas expired and talks on a multinational steel agreement broke down in Geneva.

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