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More countries threaten 232 retaliation

May 23, 2018 | 12:50 PM | New York | Millicent Dent

Tags  Section 232, tariffs, India, World Trade Organization, WTO, European Union, EU, Millicent Dent

More countries, US allies among them, continue to push back on the United States' Section 232 tariffs against steel and aluminium by threatening the imposition of counter tariffs or requesting dialogue at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Japan, Russia and Turkey have notified the WTO about potential retaliation measures, and have in the process dismissed the US view that the tariffs are necessary for national security reasons.

Japan said it would impose $264.4 million in additional duties on select imports of US goods 30 days after the date of its notification, and would apply additional duties either on March 21, 2021, or five days after the WTO Dispute Settlement Body issues a decision about whether US tariffs are in line with WTO rules.

Russia said it would impose $537.6 million in additional duties on select US shipments 30 days after the date of its notification, while Turkey said it would impose $266.5 million in additional tariffs on 22 tariff lines from June 21, 2018.

The European Union and India have also warned the WTO about potential retaliation. The European Commission (EC) will set a 25% safeguard duty on steel and aluminium imported from the US from June 20 this year if the EU is not exempt from the tariffs.

Meanwhile, India said it would impose additional duties on 5-50% on 20 tariff lines totaling $165.56 million, “equivalent to the effects on India’s trade due to the US measures.” The duties will come into force earlier than June 21 if the US continues to impose tariffs against Indian shipments. 

The South Asian nation is also the latest to request consultations with the US under the Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the WTO. China and the European Union have already requested consultations. 

India's request, circulated to WTO members on Wednesday May 23, argued that the tariffs are “in effect and in substance, safeguard measures.” India also asserted that the tariffs discriminate against exports from India and favor goods from certain countries.

The consultation request formally initiates a dispute at the WTO, giving the parties time to work together to find a solution without further litigation. If the dispute is not resolved after 60 days, the complainant can request adjudication by a panel.

The attempt by the US to protect its domestic steel and aluminium industries from import competition comes as prices for some US domestic steel products are at multiyear highs.

American Metal Market’s hot-rolled coil index stands at $44.26 per hundredweight ($885.20 per ton), up 35.6% from $32.63 per cwt at the beginning of the year.


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