Geneva: Switzerland has joined a string of countries launching challenges to Washington’s new steel and aluminium tariffs at the World Trade Organisation, Bern said Tuesday.
The Swiss economic affairs ministry said it had formally asked the US for “consultations” over tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium.
Consultations constitute the first step in a full-blown legal challenge before the global trade body.
Switzerland, where the organisation is based, had on Monday “submitted a request for consultations with the US as part of WTO dispute settlement proceedings,” the ministry said in a statement.
Several other WTO members, including the European Union, China, India, Mexico, Canada and Russia, are also fighting back against US President Donald Trump’s controversial trade policies.
Marking a departure from a decades-long US-led drive for free trade, Trump has justified the steep tariffs with claims that massive flows of imports to the United States threaten national security.
The tariff spat has escalated into an all-out trade war between the US and China.
According to Tuesday’s statement, Switzerland exported steel and aluminium products to the United States last year to the tune of around 80 million Swiss francs ($80.7 million, Dh296.8 million).
“From Switzerland’s point of view, the additional duties... are unjustified,” the ministry said, pointing out that Bern had contacted Washington when the tariffs were announced in March to request an exemption.
“The US has not responded to Switzerland’s request for an exemption from the tariffs to date,” the statement said, adding that the request for WTO consultations had been launched “in order to protect Switzerland’s interests.”
Bern did not mention possible retaliation, but other countries that have launched WTO challenges have warned they would slap tariffs on American products equivalent to the damage the US move was estimated to cause to their industries.
Under WTO rules, if 60 days pass without consultations resolving the dispute, Switzerland can ask the body to set up dispute panel, triggering a long and likely costly legal battle.
China raises tariff rates for some US optical fibre products, from July 11
Beijing: China’s commerce ministry said on Tuesday it is raising “anti-dumping tariff rates” for some optical fibre products originating from the United States, effective on Wednesday, July 11.
The new anti-dumping tariff rates for dispersion unshifted single-mode optical fibre imported from the US range between 33.3 per cent to 78.2 per cent, compared with 4.7 per cent to 18.6 per cent as set in 2011.
US companies including Corning Inc, OFS Fitel, LLC and Draka Communications Americas Inc are among firms affected by the tariff change, the ministry said on its website.