by MONITOR
PRESIDENT Bush's acceptance of the World Trade Organisation's ruling that the tariffs he imposed on steel imports last year were illegal was wise - and inevitable. If he had chosen to ignore the ruling the United States would have faced punitive tariffs on a range of its exports to Europe. The President may have lost some votes in steel-producing areas of the United States but he will have gained respect in the international community. Mr Bush could further improve his image overseas if he were to see the advantages of reversing his policy on the Kyoto Treaty on global warming and climate change. In the early days of his administration he refused to join the 100-plus countries that already signed on the grounds that American industry could not afford the controls on harmful emissions called for by the Treaty and that, anyway, the science behind it is questionable. The Treaty has now been ratified by 120 countries and its provisions are already in effect in a number of them. Last Tuesday it appeared that the long-expected and important adhesion of Russia to the Treaty was in doubt but subsequently it emerged that ratification was still Moscow's intention. In the case of the withdrawal of steel tariffs Mr Bush showed that he did not want EU reprisals that would hurt the American economy. Noting this, the London-based think tank New Economics Foundation yesterday proposed that EU countries committed to the Kyoto Treaty would be within their rights to apply a “Kyoto tax” on American exports to compensate for the savings US manufacturers make by ignoring the Kyoto emission controls. “There are very few signals the United States understands,” said a spokesman for the Foundation, “but they do understand economic signals”.