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December 14, 2018

WTO sets panels to review U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs

At its November 21 meeting, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) agreed to requests from seven members for the establishment of panels to examine tariffs imposed by the United States on steel and aluminum imports. The United States imposes an additional customs duty of 10% on imports of aluminum products and an additional customs duty of 25% on imports of certain steel products.

China, the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Norway, Russia and Turkey reiterated their belief that the U.S. measures, allegedly taken for national security reasons, were, in their content and substance, safeguard measures taken to protect the U.S. steel and aluminum industries from the economic effects of imports.

The seven members disagreed with U.S. arguments that the U.S. resort to the national security exception under Article XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) precluded WTO panels from examining the claims, arguing that while national security was a sensitive matter, panels were fully within their right to examine whether such claims are justified under the exception.

The DSB also agreed to four U.S. requests for panels to examine countermeasures imposed by China, Canada, the European Union and Mexico on U.S. imports in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs.

The U.S. says these members base their actions on the pretense that the U.S. actions on steel and aluminum are safeguards

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