WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Trade Organization (WTO) has rejected then-President Donald Trump’s 2018 import taxes on foreign steel and aluminum, saying they violated global trade rules.
Trump’s 25% tariffs on foreign steel and 10% on aluminum outraged America’s allies — including the European Union and Japan — because he relied on a little-used provision of US trade law to declare that his steel and aluminum were a threat to the national security of the United States.
China and other trading partners have challenged the tariffs at the 164-nation WTO.
In a ruling issued on Friday, the WTO said it was “not convinced” that the United States faced “an emergency in international relations” that would justify the tariffs.
However, Friday’s decision will likely have little impact in the real world. If the United States appeals the ruling, it will go nowhere. That’s because the WTO’s Appellate Body has not been operational for three years, since Washington blocked the appointment of new judges to the panel.
For its part, President Joe Biden’s administration has already struck deals with the EU, Japan and the UK to remove the tariffs and replace them with import quotas under which Trump’s taxes are waived. In return, the trading partners removed the retaliatory tariffs against the United States.
Still, the Biden administration criticized the WTO decision.
“The United States has held the clear and unequivocal position, for more than 70 years, that national security issues cannot be reviewed in WTO dispute settlement,” said Adam Hodge, spokesman for the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Joined. “The WHO has no interference in the security decisions of member countries,” he said.
Biden’s trade team is seeking a balance between patching things up with allies angered by Trump’s “America First” trade policies and maintaining tariffs that are popular with many of the country’s steel and aluminum producers.
Christine McDaniel, a trade analyst at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, said Trump’s anti-tariff ruling was not a surprise.
“Everyone knew that it was clear protectionism,” he said. “Technically speaking, countries can act in their own interest when it comes to national security” and the WTO simply did not buy the US reasoning, she added.