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Trade dispute Swiss complaint over US tariffs to be reviewed by WTO panel

A general view of the World Trade Organization in Geneva

A general view of the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva


A Swiss complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against United States import tariffs on aluminium and steel will be decided by a WTO panel.

On Tuesday, the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) accepted to create separate panels to hear the complaints by Switzerland and India, after the two countries filed a second request for their cases to be heard.

In July, Switzerland initiated a WTO dispute settlement procedureexternal link against US President Donald Trump's decision to hit various countries with import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium. Switzerland exported steel products worth about CHF80 million ($80.5 million) last year. 

The DSB already agreed last month to establish panels to hear disputes brought by the European Union, China, Canada, Mexico, Norway, Russia and Turkey.

According to the Keystone-SDA news agency, the Swiss ambassador to the WTO Didier Chambovey is convinced that Trump’s decision on tariffs does “not conform” with US obligations.

Trump has defended the tariffs with claims that huge flows of imports to the US threaten national security. Washington invoked a rarely used WTO exception that allows a country to take "any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests".

The move to create the WTO panels follows failed consultations between the parties and marks an escalation in the ongoing dispute at the WTO over Trump's trade policies.

Several weeks ago, Chambovey denounced unilateral safeguard measures by the US and said Washington's attitude could have "a damaging effect on the entire multilateral trading system". 

In 2002, Switzerland, together with other WTO member states, successfully brought a steel industry case against the US. The trade measures were subsequently lifted from the products as a result. 


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