The World Trade Organization announced the close of proceedings in the trade dispute between the governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada late last week in recognition of the May agreement by the United States to end duties on imports of aluminium and steel from both Mexico and Canada.
Noting the May 23rd agreement with Canada to remove Section 232 tariffs on aluminium and steel imports and a similar agreement struck with Mexico 5 days later, the WTO announced that it “concludes its work by reporting that a mutually agreed solution to this dispute has been reached between the parties.”
The disputes ended last week began 13 months ago in the wake of the Trump Administration’s enacting blanket 10-percent tariffs on the entirety of imported aluminium products and blanket 25-percent tariffs on all imported steel goods. Though Canada initially received a temporary waiver, neither country was granted a permanent exemption from the tariffs, prompting both retaliatory tariffs and dispute actions at the WTO.
Though Canada and Mexico no longer have actions against the United States at the WTO, the European Union’s action continues, as aluminium and steel imports from the region continue to be assessed relevant tariffs under Section 232.
The Trump Administration launched an investigation under the little-used portion of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 shortly after coming to power in 2017. Finding that imports of aluminium and steel imperiled national security by squeezing out domestic producers of specialty alloys necessary for national defense purposes, the administration enacted the penalties. Those sanctions proved to be singularly unpopular, prompting governments around the world to respond with unilateral retaliatory tariffs and dispute actions with the WTO and other trade bodies.