Partners Trade Blows in Tariffs Scuffle

- May 22nd, 2018

More countries are gearing up to hit back at the US in retaliation for its tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

More countries are gearing up to hit back at the US in retaliation for its tariffs on steel and aluminum imports using World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Documents circulated by the WTO on Tuesday (May 22) reveal that Turkey, Russia and Japan have detailed compensation claims with the organization that add to previous claims, bringing the cost of US tariffs to US$3.5 billion annually.

Russia has said US actions would add duties of up to US$538 million to its steel and aluminum exports, while Japan’s numbers are at US$440 million and Turkey is at US$267 million.

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The three would be joining the EU (US$1.6 billion), India (US$165 million) and China (US$612 million) in detailing claims in retaliation for US President Donald Trump’s tariffs, which came into effect in March.

Under the levies, steel imports are tagged with a 25-percent tariff while aluminum imports are tagged 10 percent.

Trading partners exempted from tariffs like the EU are themselves bracing for a trade war with the US after Washington indicated exemptions won’t be extended beyond June 1.

Under WTO rules, a member state can classify tariffs as “safeguards” to protect a struggling industry. States that use safeguards have to compensate other WTO members that would suffer from the tariffs by rebalancing trade in other areas with a net increase in imports of other goods.

According to the states now leveling tariffs against the US, US tariffs are safeguards and therefore they are entitled to compensation under the WTO’s rules — something the US rejects, claiming that it’s within its national interests for security reasons to impose tariffs.

The US denying its tariffs require compensation is what has triggered the retaliatory actions by its trading partners.

The WTO says that Turkey has listed 22 US goods it could target in retaliation, including steel products. Russia and Japan have not specified how they will take action.

According to Trump, the tariffs are mainly aimed at China, despite the country being only the 11th-largest exporter of steel to the US, which is the world’s largest steel importer at 34.6 million tonnes per year. 

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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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