WTO panels to review US 232 tariffs on steel, aluminum

The World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement body on Wednesday agreed to establish panels to rule on whether the US Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports comply with WTO rules, according to a Geneva trade official.

The dispute settlement body approved the establishment of the panels at the second request of six WTO members: China, the EU, Canada, Mexico, Norway and Russia. A seventh request from Turkey for a panel on the same Section 232 metal tariffs was to be heard later in the day Wednesday, according to the Geneva official.

At the meeting the US said it would not agree to a request from the six respondents for the establishment of a single three-member panel to review the six complaints, which are nearly identical. In their complaints to the WTO, the members have alleged the US levies of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum are inconsistent with provisions of the WTO’s General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade and with the WTO’s agreement on safeguards.

The WTO’s dispute settlement body on Wednesday also approved the establishment of three panels to rule on whether increased duties imposed by Canada, China and the EU on certain US imports in response to the Section 232 tariffs violate existing WTO rules. A fourth request from the US for a panel on retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico was to be heard later in the day.

Justine Coyne