WTO to probe whether US steel, aluminium tariffs comply with norms

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has agreed to set up panels at its Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to decide whether US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports comply with WTO rules, a trade official said here.

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

In June, the US imposed a duty of 25 per cent on steel imports and a 10 per cent on aluminium 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 US tariffs.

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

Meanwhile, the US secured the establishment of four panels to examine countermeasures imposed by Canada, China, the EU and Mexico on certain American imports in response to the tariffs.

In a report on Thursday, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo issued a warning 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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