World, Americas

US takes tariff battle to World Trade Organization

Complaints issued against 5 countries including Canada, Turkey

US takes tariff battle to World Trade Organization

By Barry Ellsworth


The United States issued complaints with the World Trade Organization on Monday against five countries, including Canada, the European Union and Turkey.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that tariffs initiated by the Donald Trump administration on steel and aluminum earlier this year were “justified under international agreements,” but the counter tariffs imposed by affected countries were not.

The U.S. maintains countries are dumping excess metals into the American market, undermining U.S. industries and workers. The counter-tariffs by other countries were also instituted to hurt American laborers, Lighthizer said.

Turkey, Canada, China, the European Union and Mexico struck back after the U.S. slapped imports of steel with 25 percent tariffs, and aluminum 10 percent.

“The actions taken by [Trump] are wholly legitimate and fully justified as a matter of U.S. law and international trade rules,” Lighthizer said in the release. “Instead of working with us to address a common problem, some of our trading partners have elected to respond with retaliatory tariffs designed to punish American workers.

“The United States will take all necessary actions to protect out interests and we urge our trading partners to work constructively with us on the problems created by massive and persistent excessive capacity in the steel and aluminum sectors.”

Canada responded to the U.S. tariffs by putting duties on CAN$16.6 billion of U.S. imports, beginning July 1.

It represents the strongest trade action taken by Canada since the World War II.

Turkey retaliated by announcing in June that it was placing tariffs of US$266.5 million on US$1.8 billion of imports.

“We cannot and will not allow Turkey to be wrongly blamed for America’s economic challenges,” Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said in a statement justifying the countertariffs.

The World Trade Organization adjudicates trade disputes that arise among its 164 member countries.

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