European Union Requests WTO Consultations with United States Regarding Trump Aluminium Tariffs

European Union Requests WTO Consultations with United States Regarding Trump Aluminium Tariffs

Though the body was granted a temporary reprieve last month, the European Union has petitioned the World Trade Organization for consultation with the United States government regarding President Donald Trump’s blanket 10-percent tariffs upon imported aluminium.

The request is the second such of the WTO regarding the Trump tariffs, the first being made by the government of the People’s Republic of China. Both requests are made under the claim that the tariffs are a safeguard measure, challenging the notion put forth by the administration that they were enacted due to national security concerns.

According to the EU, the United States “failed to notify the measure to the WTO’s Safeguards Committee,” which is a requirement under Article 12.1 of the agreement.

Per the EU request, the consultations are necessary “to exchange views and seek clarification regarding the proposed measures and reaching an understanding on ways to achieve the objectives set out in Article 8.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards.”

The United States government has yet to respond to the request made by the EU, but, in response to a similar request made by China, trade representatives from Washington, D.C. said that the tariffs were not safeguards. Rather, they claim that President Trump “deemed that tariffs are necessary to adjust imports of steel and aluminum articles that threaten to impair the national security of the United States.”

In addition to this request, the EU is conducting a separate investigation of the Trump tariffs that may result in provisional duties or tariff-free quotas. At the moment, the EU is exempt from the 10-percent aluminium tariffs through the end of this month.

The Trump administration imposed strict tariffs on all imported aluminium last month in a response to a year-long investigation by the Commerce Department into possible national security implications surrounding the importation of below-market aluminium. To date, a handful of countries have been granted a temporary exemption to the tariffs, which will expire on May 1, provided that no longer-term agreement is in place.