China Files Complaint with WTO over U.S. Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

China has requested consultations, or formally initiated a dispute, with the U.S. under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism over U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from all countries except Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Australia, Argentina, South Korea and Brazil. The tariff took effect March 23, 2018.

The request was made on April 5, and was circulated to WTO members on April 9.

According to WTO, China claims the 25-percent steel tariff and 10-percent aluminum tariff are inconsistent with provisions of the WTO’s Agreement on Safeguards and the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994.

The request reads, “The measures at issue…appear to be inconsistent with the United States’ obligations under Article X:3(a) of the GATT 1994, because the United States has failed to administer its laws, regulations, decisions and rulings in relation to the measures at issue in a uniform, impartial and reasonable manner.”

In the legal basis of its complaint, China also cites the U.S.’s alleged failure to apply the measures in a proper manner, “for example, application irrespective of source of supply and only for necessary period of time.”

The U.S. and China have 60 days to resolve the dispute themselves. If they are unable to do so, panelists could be appointed to make rulings or recommendations. The panel process could take up to one year.

On April 4, China filed a request for consultations over the list of Chinese products the U.S. plans to impose tariffs upon published on April 3.

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