ARLINGTON, Va. - President Bush's decision to rescind the tariffs on steel is a "clear victory for consumers and the manufacturers of heating, ventilation, refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, for whom steel is a vital and fundamental component," according to William G. Sutton, president of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, a group of equipment manufacturers.

"ARI and its members made a strong case for repeal and the facts proved overwhelming, especially as industry after industry joined us in making the argument that each day that we pay extra for steel means more jobs shifted to Asia," said Sutton.

The HVACR industry, with 175,000 workers, achieves a positive trade balance annually with exports exceeding imports, but rising costs due to the tariffs threatened the ability of American firms to compete and imposed an unfair burden on consumers, ARI officials said.

ARI representatives had warned the International Trade Commission that the tariffs were encouraging manufacturers to move facilities abroad.

"This action by President Bush is an important step forward to help the HVACR industry improve its position in 2004," said Sutton.