Turkey welcomes WTO decision on US steel, aluminum duties

The Turkish Trade Ministry has welcomed the World Trade Organization panel’s Dec. 9 decision that US tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum imports were against the trade organization’s rules, saying the decision was in line with Turkey’s stand on the issue.

The Turkish ministry in a late Dec. 15 statement said that the decision proved that additional duties imposed by the US in March 2018 couldn’t be defended by national security reasons.

“The WTO decision, which is an important achievement for countries that are subject to these protection measures, is also ensuring that countries couldn’t impose these kinds of measures from now on by interpreting security reasons extensively,” the Turkish ministry said.

The US approach to the subject was harming the system’s trustworthiness, it said, adding that it would follow the upcoming appeal process closely.

A WTO panel on Dec. 9 determined that US steel and aluminum tariffs were inconsistent with international trade obligations and recommended that modifications be made.

The US did not intend to remove the Section 232 duties, Assistant US Trade Representative Adam Hodge had said after the WTO decision, adding that issues of national security could not be reviewed in WTO dispute settlements and that the WTO had no authority to second-guess the ability of a WTO member to respond to a wide range of threats to its security.

The US is expected to appeal against the WTO panel decision soon.

Former US President Donald Trump had imposed import duties of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum against most countries in March 2018, arguing that the trade protection was needed for national security purposes.

Turkey’s hot-rolled coil exports to the US declined gradually after the Section 232 duties were imposed, especially in 2022, amid low demand.

According to the latest Turkish Statistical Institute data shared with S&P Global Commodity Insights, Turkey exported 6,800 mt of HRC to the US over January-October 2022, down 98% year on year.

Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed Turkish-exported HRC at $640/mt FOB Dec. 9, down around $600/mt from mid-March prices. Platts assessed TSI Turkish HRC at $660/mt ex-works on Dec. 16, up $10/mt on the day.

— Cenk Can