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Switzerland challenges US steel tariffs

Switzerland's relatively small but high-tech steel industry says US steel tariffs are in breech of WTO rules

(Keystone Archive)

Switzerland has sought arbitration from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on a decision by the United States to impose 30 per cent tariffs on steel imports.

On Monday, the WTO accepted requests by Switzerland, Norway and China to appoint a panel of experts to determine whether the US's action, which came into effect in March, contravened WTO trade agreements.

"It's the first time that Switzerland is requesting the establishment of a WTO panel to make a decision on the consistency of the measure taken by one of its major trade partners," Didier Chambovey, the Swiss deputy permanent representative to the WTO, told swissinfo.

"We believe the US is acting in breach of the WTO agreement and that its measures are having a negative impact on the export of Swiss steel, which is worth SFr30 million per year."

Switzerland said it would retaliate by imposing duties on a number of US goods if the WTO did not rule in its favour.

Chambovey added that the WTO panel may be expanded to deal with similar requests from other nations, including the European Union, Japan and South Korea.

It is estimated that the panel will take 15 months to consider the evidence before putting a case to the US, which for its part said it regretted the proceedings but was confident of winning the case.

"Of course, it will take time for the panel to reach a verdict and in the short term, Swiss exporters will just have to live with the American measures," Chambovey said.

Linnet Daily, the US trade ambassador, described the Swiss move as "regrettable".

swissinfo


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