World Trade Organization

WTO delays ruling on US metal tariffs to 2nd half of 2021


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WTO delays ruling on US metal tariffs to 2nd half of 2021

STEEL. A worker cuts a piece from a steel coil at the Novolipetsk Steel PAO steel mill in Farrell, Pennsylvania, March 9, 2018.

File photo by Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters

Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration had spurred several complaints to the World Trade Organization from steel-exporting countries

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has delayed until at least the 2nd half of 2021 its ruling on metal tariffs imposed by the United States, giving President Joe Biden more time if he wishes to settle the disputes.

The WTO panel handling challenges brought by China, the European Union, India, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey had previously said its final report would not be before autumn 2020, implying it would come after the US presidential vote.

The 3-person panel said in a filing on Monday, February 8, that the report would now come no earlier than the 2nd half of this year. It said the delay was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US administration of former president Donald Trump set duties in 2018 of 25% on incoming steel and 10% on aluminum under a 1962 US law that allows the president to restrict imports on grounds of national security.

The measures spurred 9 complaints to the WTO from steel-exporting countries. Canada and Mexico have since terminated their cases after agreeing an updated free trade pact with the United States.

The case hinges on the exemption from global trade rules the WTO allows in cases of national security.

The central US argument is that national security is for countries themselves to judge and certainly not something to be assessed by a 3-person WTO panel in Geneva.

The EU argued at the WTO in November 2019 that the tariffs were not protecting US security, but designed instead to “make America rich again.” – 

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