16 MARCH 2002, Page 40

Free-trade fiddles

From Mr Geoffrey Wilson

Sir: I share your support of US action against terrorism and your opposition to US protectionism on steel imports (Leading article, 9 March). But I think we need to keep some sense of proportion in all this. It is far too much to expect the US to carry the whole burden of honest free trade, while other rich countries fiddle the rules with impunity. Britain, as a member of the EU, should speak out against the many EU blocks to imports from poorer countries (over which we are supposed to have some influence) rather than against one small — of course, regrettable and counterproductive — US piece of protectionism,

The EU spokesman also gave the game away in his denunciation of US action, by saying that the EU reserved the right to take action to block a flood of cheap steel imports diverted from the US by the tariffs. He therefore admits that there is a flood and is attacking the US for protecting itself, while saying the EU will do the same.

Geoffrey Wilson

Rusper, West Sussex