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WTO says Trump steel, aluminum tariffs broke rules

Former President Donald Trump addresses supporters at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe Pennsylvania on November 5. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Former President Donald Trump addresses supporters at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe Pennsylvania on November 5. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The World Trade Organization ruled Friday that steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump under claims of national security violated global trade rules.

The WTO pushed back against Trump's claim in its ruling, saying the tariffs did not come "at a time of war or emergency" to warrant such a declaration. The WTO started its probe after complaints were filed by China, Turkey, Switzerland and Norway.

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"Having carefully reviewed the relevant evidence and arguments submitted in this dispute, and particularly those submitted by the United States in relation to global excess capacity, the panel is not persuaded that the situation to which the United States refers rises to the gravity or severity of tensions on the international plane so as to constitute an 'emergency in international relations' during which a Member may act," the WTO said in its report.

Trump had imposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum in 2018, citing unfair competition and national security interests. Trump, though, made deals with some countries, including Mexico and Canada to lessen the effects of the tariffs.

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When President Joe Biden took office, he made additional deals with the European Union, Japan and Britain to reduce the impact of the tariffs, while keeping the measures in place because they were supported by steel and aluminum labor unions.

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Assistant U.S. trade representative Adam Hodge said the Biden administration is not considering a removal of the tariffs.

"The United States has held the clear and unequivocal position, for over 70 years, that issues of national security cannot be reviewed in WTO dispute settlement and the WTO has no authority to second guess the ability of a WTO member to respond to a wide range of threats to its security," Hodge said.

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"The Biden administration is committed to preserving U.S. national security by ensuring the long-term viability of our steel and aluminium industries."

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