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Switzerland files WTO complaint over American steel tariffs

The US import measures targeted at protecting national security were unjustified, SECO wrote.

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has initiated a dispute settlement procedure with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against US steel and aluminium import tariffs.

In a statementexternal link published on Tuesday, SECOexternal link announced that a complaint to this effect had been filed with the WTOexternal link because Switzerland was one of the countries affected by the additional import tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products into the US.

Switzerland exported steel products worth about CHF80 million (USD80.5 million) last year, it said in the statement.

The US import measures targeted at protecting national security were unjustified, SECO wrote.

+ Trump tariff plan may spark ‘undesirable chain reaction’external link

No reaction

Switzerland had already intervened with US authorities in March 2018 and submitted a formal application aimed at obtaining a country-specific exemption from trade tariffs.

The US so far has not reacted to Switzerland’s request, SECO wrote.

In order to safeguard Switzerland’s economic interest, Economics Minister Schneider-Ammann, therefore decided to launch a complaint with the WTO contesting the measures.

The decision had been taken in cooperation with the other members of the seven-member Federal Council.

Switzerland is the eighth WTO member to initiate such a challenge. Under the organisation’s rules, the United States now has 60 days to settle the dispute.

Successful precedent

WTO dispute settlement proceedings are initiated with a so-called consultation request.

In the first stage of the proceedings, the parties try to reach an amicable settlement. If such a consultation does not produce a result, Switzerland could escalate the dispute by asking the WTO to set up an arbitration body to adjudicate.

In 2002, Switzerland, together with other WTO member states, had successfully brought a steel industry case against the US.

The trade measures were subsequently lifted from the products as a result, SECO wrote in its communication.

 
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