US ‘Strongly’ Rejects WTO Ruling on Trump-Era Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
December 10, 2022US News

The United States said Friday that it “strongly rejects” the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ruling against Trump-era steel and aluminum tariffs, vowing to keep the measures in place to preserve national security.

The WTO ruled that the tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump on steel and aluminum in 2018 violated the global trading rules and recommended that the United States bring them “into conformity.”

It said that the panel was “not persuaded” that the situation referred to by the United States to justify the tariffs constituted “an emergency in international relations.” The cases were brought by China, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Adam Hodge, assistant United States Trade Representative, said that the Biden administration strongly rejected the “flawed interpretation and conclusions” of the WTO panel and had no plans to remove the tariffs.

“The Biden administration is committed to preserving U.S. national security by ensuring the long-term viability of our steel and aluminum industries, and we do not intend to remove the Section 232 duties as a result of these disputes,” he said in a statement.

The panel reports only reinforce the need for fundamental reform of the WTO dispute settlement system, Hodge said, adding that the WTO has no authority to “second-guess” how a member responds to issues that threaten its security.

“The WTO has proven ineffective at stopping severe and persistent non-market excess capacity from the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and others that is an existential threat to market-oriented steel and aluminum sectors and a threat to U.S. national security,” he stated.

“The WTO now suggests that the United States too must stand idly by. The United States will not cede decision-making over its essential security to WTO panels,” Hodge added.

Trump imposed 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum in 2018, using Section 22 of a 1962 act that allows the president to restrict imports if they pose a threat to national security.

Tariffs as Countermeasure Against China

The U.S. Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) supported the government’s refusal to accept the WTO ruling, citing the WTO’s ineffectiveness in dealing with global excess steel capacity and market-distorting behavior.

“Issues of national security should not be reviewed via the WTO dispute settlement process,” SMA president Philip K. Bell said in a statement.

Wang He, a columnist for The Epoch Times, said on Sept. 3 on NTDTV’s “Global Watch” that the U.S. government made the right decision in maintaining the Trump administration’s China tariffs.

“Continuing the Trump era’s tough tariffs on China is Biden’s countermeasure against the Chinese regime,” he said.

U.S.-based current affairs commentator Lan Shu told “Global Watch” that the move was a decision based on maintaining fair trade principles.

“It’s mainly because, since it was allowed to join the World Trade Organization, China has been using unequal means in trading to develop its economy on the foundation of jeopardizing other countries’ [economies],” Shu said.

Alex Wu and Reuters contributed to this report.

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