United States Turns Down First Request For WTO Dispute Panels Lodged By India, Switzerland

The requests lodged by the governments of India and Switzerland against the Trump administration’s blanket import tariffs on aluminium and steel at the World Trade Organization have been rejected by the United States government, an action that both governments have promised to appeal.

“The two argued that the US actions were, in effect and content, safeguard measures and that they were both concerned the US was using national security as a justification for the tariffs,” explained an unnamed Geneva official to Indian media late last week.

The Swiss government warned that allowing the Trump tariffs to stand would continue to wreak havoc on the global metals trading framework, and continuing tit-for-tat protectionist trade measures will harm worldwide aluminium and steel value chains.

India’s complaint centered on the assertion that the WTO’s legitimacy is at risk if a member state’s unilateral actions on such trade matters are allowed to stand unchallenged.

Washington, D.C.’s rejection of the two countries’ appeals now moves the issue to the WTO’s dispute settlement body (DSB), which met last on Wednesday. At that meeting, second requests to challenge the Trump tariffs by the People’s Republic of China, the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Norway, the Russian Federation, and Turkey were accepted by the body over the objection of United States representatives.

“Apart from the similarity between the cases, the reason why the members had asked for a single panel was also the fact that the DSB was short of judges as the appointments process has been stalled by the US for the last few months and vacancies are not being filled,” explained the above-referenced official.

Several countries appealing the United States’ tariffs have enacted their own retaliatory measures to make up for expected economic damages inflicted upon them by the Trump administration’s tariffs. The Indian government said it will levy retaliatory tariffs on 29 types of American imports totaling US$134 million, but it has not imposed such tariffs to date.



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