WTO Rules Against Trump-Era Section 232 Tariffs On Aluminium And Steel

WTO Rules Against Trump-Era Section 232 Tariffs On Aluminium And Steel

Last week the World Trade Organization ruled that the Trump-era import duties on aluminium and steel violated international law.

On Friday the three-judge tribunal found that the import tariffs on aluminium and steel instituted in 2018 were in violation of the WTO’s rules and recommended that Washington amend the tariffs to comport to those rules.

For its part, the United States government criticized the “flawed” ruling. Washington may appeal the ruling, but as it has also blocked appointments to the appellate body, the appeal would enter a legal limbo.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a press release that the government will not stand by and allow the People’s Republic of China to flood the country with below-market aluminium and steel.

“We do not intend to remove the Section 232 duties as a result of these disputes.”

The U.S. Trade Representative went on to say that the decision demonstrates the need for reform of the WTO.

The Trump administration enacted the 10-percent tariffs on aluminium and 25-percent tariffs on steel after invoking a rarely used section of trade law that permits such tariffs if an investigation finds that a certain import jeopardizes national security. Although some countries were exempted from the tariffs, major players like China, Russia, and India were not.

Friday’s ruling applied to challenges brought by China, Turkey, Switzerland, and Norway. Complaints lodged by India and Russia are awaiting decisions. An EU complaint was suspended after the U.S. government agreed to drop the Section 232 tariffs on aluminium and steel imported from European smelters.