Putin challenges Trump’s tariffs

July 5, 2018

Russia has requested talks with the United States on President Donald Trump’s decision to impose new duties on steel and aluminum—the first step in formally challenging the action at the World Trade Organization. Indeed, the subject may come up at the July 16 summit  in Helsinki, Finland, already scheduled by Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

The complaint filed Monday is the seventh initiated by a WTO member against Trump’s new tariffs, following cases brought by China, India, the European Union, Canada, Mexico, and Norway, Politico reported on July 2.

Moscow’s move comes just as the Trump administration is mulling 25% tariffs on auto imports in the name of national security.

The U.S. imported $192 billion in new passenger vehicles in 2017, according to Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Russia claims the U.S. duties of 25% and 10% on imports of steel and aluminum products, respectively, are inconsistent with provisions of the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and the Agreement on Safeguards, Politico said.

The Trump administration imposed the duties under Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which allows a president to restrict imports to protect national security.

However, rather than accept the U.S. national security rationale for the steel and aluminum duties, other WTO members are treating the restrictions as emergency “safeguard” restrictions, Politico reported. Such restrictions are allowed under WTO rules but must meet certain criteria to pass muster. Steel safeguard restrictions imposed by former President George W. Bush in 2002 were struck down by the WTO.

The EU, Canada, Mexico, China and others also have retaliated against the U.S. steel and aluminum duties, arguing that they are entitled to take such steps because the United States did not compensate them for imposing safeguard restrictions.

On tariffs, 48%  of Americans disagree with President Trump’s imposition of new levies on steel and aluminum imports, while 36% agree, according to findings of a recent CBS News poll. When asked specifically about tariffs on Canadian imports, the number of Americans who disagree rises to 62%. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans approve of the Canadian tariffs.

Research contact: @CBSNews

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