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WTO decides to investigate U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs

Staff Writer |
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has agreed to set up panels at its Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to decide whether U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports comply with WTO rules, a Geneva trade official said Thursday.

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China and the European Union (EU) protested Wednesday along with Mexico, Norway, Russia, Canada and Turkey against measures by Washington which they said are not for national security reasons but for American economic interests.

In June, the United States imposed a duty of 25 percent on steel imports and a 10 percent on aluminum imports from Mexico, Canada and the EU, among other regions, citing a national security exemption.

The DSB agreed to set up separate panels for the complaints.

On the same occasion, India and Switzerland submitted their first requests for panels to rule on the U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs.

Like the seven other members, the two argued that the U.S. actions were, in effect and content, safeguard measures, drawing concerns that the United States was using national security as a justification for the tariffs.

Meanwhile, the United States secured the establishment of four panels to examine countermeasures imposed by Canada, China, the EU and Mexico on certain U.S. imports in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs.

In a report Thursday, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo issued a warning after a new report saying that new import-restrictive measures have hit a new high.

He said the report's findings "should be of serious concern for G20 governments and the whole international community", warning that further escalation remains a real threat.

"If we continue along the current course, the economic risks will increase, with potential effects for growth, jobs and consumer prices around the world," Azevedo said.

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