The US has backed down in the face of threats of international retaliation and rescinded its illegal tariffs on steel imports. The decision removes a big source of friction with US trade partners, particularly the European Union, which was poised to impose if the measures were not scrapped. President George W. Bush said the tariffs, which he imposed in March last year and which had been due to last three years, had achieved their purpose by helping US producers consolidate and regain competitiveness. He made a small concession to the industry by promising to continue a monitoring and licensing scheme for imports to guard against the risk of future surges in steel shipments from abroad. The widely-expected decision follows a final ruling last month by the World Trade Organisation’s appellate body, which ruled in favour of complaints by the EU, Japan and six other countries that the tariffs violated world trade rules. The EU, China, and Japan greeted the decision and said they would drop plans to impose retaliatory tariffs on US imports. Several companies round the world issued statements welcoming the lifting of tariffs, including ThyssenKrupp Steel AG and Corus. The Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition, which includes various manufacturers that use steel in their finished products, applauded Bush’s decision. However, US steel executives expressed disappointment in President Bush’s decision, but said they did not expect the move to hurt the companies.