WTO members concerned over US steel tariffs

Posted on 24 April 2018

Source: China Daily

Several members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday expressed their concerns and disappointment with the recent decision by the United States to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products, during a meeting of WTO Safeguards Committee.

Seven WTO members - including Russia, India, Venezuela, Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and Singapore - joined China, which raised the matter, in expressing their respective concerns over US tariff decision under Section 232.

China warned that the Section 232 actions severely damage the stability of the multilateral trading system and distort international supply chains, with considerable negative follow-up effects.

China said the US decision to exempt certain exporters from the tariffs, including some of the largest suppliers to the US market, clearly violated the WTO's most favored nation principle.

Russia noted that the whole process leading up to the imposition of tariffs lacked transparency and deprived foreign producers the right to provide evidence in the hearings.

The US actions only cause instability in trade, lead to increased trade barriers, and create a lose-lose situation for all members, said Russian delegates.

Turkey suggested that the G20's Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity provides a venue to discuss the problem of excess capacity, saying such problems should be resolved through coordinated efforts rather than resort to unilateralism.

For its part, Washington insisted the tariffs were taken on grounds of national security and were not a safeguard action, thus there were no grounds for request from members for consultations with the US on the matter, under the Safeguards Agreement.

Despite widespread dissent from business groups and trading partners around the world, US President Donald Trump on March 8 signed proclamations to impose a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on aluminum. 

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