USA challenges China, EU and others at WTO over steel tariffs

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 16, 2018

The filing a challenge to the tariffs that China, the European Union and several other countries imposed on the retaliation to U.S. tariffs on their steel and aluminum.

He says the tariffs that are punishing American workers, farmers and companies.

Launched Jan. 1, 1995, as the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO's mission is to facilitate free and fair trade.

The federal Liberal government introduced reciprocal duties earlier this month on some USA imports after the Trump administration slapped Canada - and other American allies - with tariffs on steel and aluminum.

If a USA trading partner wants to go through the WTO's dispute settlement process, it can make a "request for consultations" that would start a 60-day period to talk about the issue.

However, some European businesses have lately found easier paths into the Chinese market - a sign China is wooing other trade partners as it prepares for a long battle with the United States, analysts say.

Beijing has said it would retaliate for that, and on Monday the Commerce Ministry said it had added the $200 billion tariff threat to existing WTO complaints which it has lodged against Washington.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady warned Sunday that President Donald Trump's tariffs against China could weaken economic growth and impede the results of tax cuts, due to their effects on industries across the nation.

"The EU remains critical of China on several key issues, very much in line with the USA administration, most notably subsidies" along with "remaining barriers to entry, particularly technology transfers requirements", said Federico Santi of Eurasia Group. The Mexican government promised to continue to defend its national interest.

Trump, who has demanded Beijing cut the trade surplus, could use the latest result to further ratchet up pressure on China after both sides last week imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion of each other's goods.

"As Minister Freeland has said repeatedly, it is absurd to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the USA", he said.

Experts say China will likely be looking to establish some kind of anti-U.S. alliance that Beijing could use as a counterbalance to the United States amid its tariff dispute with the USA president.

Last month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. tariffs against Canada and other allies were created to force them into action to address the world's overproduction and overcapacity of steel.

On this front, Ottawa feels it has more work to do.

Adam Austen wrote in an email that it's "a measured, perfectly reciprocal, dollar-for-dollar response to the USA tariffs".

The U.S. cited "national security" as the reason for imposing its tariffs: Mr. Lighthizer claims that he has to keep foreign steel and aluminum out of the country in order to build up the U.S.'s domestic metal-making capacity so that it can make its own steel and aluminum in the event of a war.

The U.S. Commerce Department is holding a hearing Thursday to discuss the prospective tariffs, at which Canadian officials are expected to appear.

There are widespread warnings that levies on the highly integrated Canada-U.S. auto sector would be far more damaging for the economy than the duties on steel and aluminum.

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