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.

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.

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.

Canada, Mexico and the European Union (EU) were given exemption ex-tensions on the steel and aluminum tariffs through June 1, 2018. The original deadline for President Donald Trump to make a decision about the countries’ exemption status was May 1, 2018. The administration extended the decision pending North American Free Trade Agreement talks with Canada and Mexico and negotiations with the EU.

The U.S. reached a final agreement on terms that will exempt South Korea from the tariffs.

Agreements were reached in principle with Argentina, Australia and Brazil, which will be finalized shortly.

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