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US Import Tariff On Steel & Aluminium To Be Investigated By WTO

US Import Tariff On Steel & Aluminium To Be Investigated By WTO
The legality of the decision of the United States to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminium on the pretext of national security will now be investigated by the World Trade Organization.
The US has reacted to the announcement made on Wednesday saying that the legitimacy of the Geneva-based trade body would be undermined.
The WTO had been approached and appeals were submitted by a number of member countries of the global trade body including many from the European Union as well as China\, where in the countries requested the body to examine the validity of the import tariffs on steel and aluminium by the US and questioned the national security pretext raised by the US and instead claimed that the decision by the US was driven by its economic interests.
According to several media reports, the American delegation present at the Wednesday meeting of the WTO dispute settlement body said according to prepared remarks of the decision that an examination of the legality of the tariffs and America’s essential security interests “would undermine the legitimacy of the WTO’s dispute settlement system and even the viability of the WTO as a whole.”
This politically fraught confrontation has been intentionally avoided for long by the WTO. The implication for each of the two types of possible outcomes from the examination has immense importance. In case the WTO rules in favour of the US. It can set a precedence for the trade body’s 164 other members to impose import tariffs on products that they want and create protectionist trade policies by putting forward the national security reason to make economic gains. On the other hand, a decision against the US could give US president Donald Trump an excuse to leave the WTO in totality. 
A rarely-used WTO national security exemption was relied upon by the United States when it decided to announce and impose the trade tariffs on steel and aluminium. That WTO exemption allows governments of member countries to take “any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests.”
In a separate statement to the WTO decision, the decision  of unilaterally retaliating against U.S. goods to respond to Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs by Canada, China, the EU and Mexico was termed as a big “hypocrisy” by the United States.
of Canada, China, the EU and Mexico for their unilateral retaliation against U.S. goods in response to Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs.
“Just as these members appear to be ready to undermine the dispute settlement system by ignoring the plain meaning of” the WTO’s national security exemption, “so too are they ready to undermine the WTO by pretending to follow its rules while imposing measures that blatantly disregard them,” according to the U.S. remarks.
Retaliatory import tariffs for the steel and aluminium tariffs imposed by the Trump administration has already been imposed on US goods worth $25 billion by seven WTO members -- Canada, China, the EU, India, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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