The Reagan administration, whose negotiated steel-import limits have been rejected by the major U.S. steel companies they were designed to help, said it is adopting a wait-and-see attitude before deciding what step to take next in the U.S.-European steel crisis.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department is expected today to announce more preliminary findings against European steel makers in a series of dumping decisions.
Hours after Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige and European Economic Community officials announced on Friday that they had reached an agreement on European steel exports to the U.S. market, U.S. Steel Corp. Chairman David M. Roderick said he rejected the plan "with reluctance and regret," calling it "neither fair nor equitable."
Yesterday, Bethlehem Steel Corp. and Republic Steel Corp. joined U.S. Steel in rejecting the plan.
The negotiated agreement "would not eliminate the injurious effects of future subsidized imports, nor would it correct the severe damages already caused by the dumped and subsidized products," said Bethlehem Chairman Donald H. Trautlein.
"The proposal does not remove the injury already caused by the subsidized European steel and would permit a continued unacceptable high level of steel imports from the EC," said E. Bradley Jones, Republic Steel chairman.
A Commerce Department spokesman said the agency is "in a holding pattern to see where we go from here. We're waiting for the dust to settle."
The spokesman said the Europeans have indicated they are unwilling to negotiate another agreement and the administration has not asked them to do so. "We want to see what options are available," the spokesman said.
EEC Industry Commissioner Etienne Davignon and External Affairs Commissioner Wilhelm Haferkamp told reporters in Brussels that U.S. industry should accept the negotiated agreement.
The Reagan administration made "a commitment to us," Haferkamp said. "The future will show whether the American government has overestimated its persuasive powers or not."
Today, Commerce is expected to make its preliminary findings in 18 dumping cases against Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Romania. That decision is expected to result in bonds posted against those countries in the amount of the margin of dumping. Dumping is selling goods here at prices below what it cost to produce them.