European Union submitted a request for consultations with the United States on steel and aluminium tariffs announced by Washington, a first step in the WTO dispute settlement process. A World Trade Organization official said that “The WTO Secretariat has received the EU request for dispute settlement consultations on the US Section 232 measures, adding that the text would only be made public once it was circulated to all WTO member states.”
On 23 March 2018, the United States through these measures introduced additional import duties of 10 per cent ad valorem on aluminium articles imported from countries other than Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, Korea, Brazil and the European Union and defined in the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) as: (a) unwrought aluminium (HTS 7601); (b) aluminium bars, rods, and profiles (HTS 7604); (c) aluminium wire (HTS 7605); (d) aluminium plate, sheet, strip, and foil (flat rolled products) (HTS 7606 and 7607); (e) aluminium tubes and pipes and tube and pipe fitting (HTS 7608 and 7609); and (f) aluminium castings and forgings (HTS 7622.214.171.124 and 76126.96.36.199), including any subsequent revisions to these HTS. On 1 May 2018, the United States through these measures introduced additional import duties of 10 per cent ad valorem also on these aluminium articles imported from Korea (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the European Union remaining exempt). On 1 June 2018, the United States through these measures introduced additional import duties of 10 per cent ad valorem also on these aluminium articles imported from Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the European Union (Australia and Argentina remaining exempt). For Argentina, the United States on 1 June 2018 introduced quotas limiting the quantities of imported aluminium articles by weight per calendar year starting from 2018.
For each of these measures referred to above, this request also covers any further amendments, supplements, replacements, extensions, implementing measures or other related measures, including any adjustments as between tariffs, tariff quotas or quotas.
These measures appear to be inconsistent with the United States’ obligations under the covered agreements and, in particular:
– Article I:1 of the GATT 1994, because, with respect to customs duties and charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with importation, and with respect to all rules and formalities in connection with importation, the United States fails to accord any advantage, favour, privilege or immunity granted by the United States to certain other countries immediately and unconditionally to the like product originating in the territories of all other Members;
– Article II:1(a) and (b) of the GATT 1994, because the measures do not accord to the commerce of most other Members, including the European Union, treatment no less favourable than that provided for in the appropriate part of the United States’ Schedule. They do not exempt the products at issue imported from most other Members, including the European Union, from ordinary customs duties and all other duties or charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with importation in excess of those provided for in the United States’ Schedule and the GATT 1994;
– Article X:3(a) of the GATT 1994, because the United States has failed to administer its laws, regulations, decisions and rulings in relation to the measures at issue in a uniform, impartial and reasonable manner;
– Article XI:1 of the GATT 1994, because the United States has instituted restrictions other than duties, taxes or other charges, made effective through quotas, on the importation of products of the territory of other Members;
– Article XIX:1(a) of the GATT 1994, because the United States has suspended tariff concessions without the products at issue being imported into the territory of the United States in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to cause or to threaten serious injury to domestic producers in the United States of like or directly competitive products, as a result of unforeseen developments and of the effect of the obligations incurred under the GATT 1994;
– Article XIX:2 of the GATT 1994, because the United States has failed to give notice in writing to the WTO as far in advance as may be practicable and has failed to afford the WTO and WTO Members having a substantial interest as exporters of the products concerned an opportunity to consult with it in respect of the proposed action;
– Article 2.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States applies safeguard measures to the products in question without first having determined, pursuant to the subsequent provisions of the Agreement on Safeguards, that such products are being imported into its territory in such increased quantities, absolute or relative to domestic production, and under such conditions as to cause or threaten to cause serious injury to the domestic industry that produces like or directly competitive products;
– Article 2.2 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States does not apply the safeguard measures to imported products irrespective of their source;
– Article 3.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States applies safeguard measures to the products in question without first properly conducting an investigation and publishing a report that sets forth e findings and reasoned conclusions on all pertinent issues of fact and law;
– Article 4.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States has not properly determined that there is serious injury, or threat thereof, to a domestic industry;
– Article 4.2 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States has failed to properly evaluate all relevant factors having a bearing on the situation of the domestic industry; has failed to demonstrate the existence of a causal link between increased imports and serious injury or the threat thereof, including by not attributing injury caused by factors other than increased imports; and has failed to publish a detailed analysis and demonstration of its conclusions;
– Article 5.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States is applying safeguard measures beyond the extent necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury and to facilitate adjustment;
– Article 7 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States is applying safeguard measures without making provision for their application only for the period necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury and to facilitate adjustment, without limitation to four years, and without making provision for progressive liberalisation at regular intervals;
– Article 9 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States is applying safeguard measures against products originating in developing country Members whose share of imports of the products concerned in the United States does not exceed 3 per cent, without developing country Members with less than 3 per cent import share collectively accounting for more than 9 per cent of total imports of the products concerned;
– Article 11.1(a) of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States has taken emergency action on imports of particular products as set forth in Article XIX of the GATT
1994, without such action conforming with the provisions of that Article applied in accordance with the Agreement on Safeguards;
– Articles 12.1, 12.2 and 12.3 of the Agreement on Safeguards, because the United States has failed to comply with any of the notification and consultation obligations set out in these provisions; and
– Articles I:1, II:1(a) and (b), X:3(a) and XI:1 of the GATT 1994, as a consequence of each of the above inconsistencies with the provisions of Article XIX of the GATT 1994 and the Agreement on Safeguards.
In addition, the European Union considers that Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended (19 U.S.C. §1862), as repeatedly interpreted by the United States’ administrative and judicial authorities in the above and other measures, is “as such” inconsistent with the United States’ obligations and rights set out in the WTO Agreement. Section 232, so interpreted, provides for the United States’ Secretary of Commerce and President to determine, ostensibly because of an alleged threat to the national security of the United States, that additional import duties or similar measures be imposed because imports of certain products (such as steel or aluminium), in particular quantities and/or at particular prices, cause or threaten injury to domestic commercial production facilities, which are therefore to be protected against competition from imports in order to ensure that they are economically viable. As such, Section 232, so interpreted, is inconsistent with the balance of obligations and rights set out in the WTO Agreement, particularly those set out above, and fails to ensure the conformity of United States laws, regulations and administrative procedures with the United States’ obligations under the WTO Agreement, in a manner that is also inconsistent with Article XVI:4 of the WTO Agreement.
These measures appear to nullify or impair the benefits accruing to the European Union directly or indirectly under the covered agreements.
The European Union reserves the right to address additional measures and claims under other provisions of the covered agreements regarding the above matters during the course of the consultations.
Source : STRATEGIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE, STEELGURU
Yaang Pipe Industry Co., Limited (www.yaang.com)