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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Apr18/17)
25 April 2018
Third World Network           

Turkey latest to seek consultations over US S.232 actions
Published in SUNS #8668 dated 24 April 2018

Geneva, 23 Apr (Kanaga Raja) - Turkey has now joined the growing list of countries seeking consultations with the United States under Article 12.3 of the WTO's Agreement on Safeguards over the additional tariffs imposed by the United States on imports of certain steel and aluminium products.

The request for consultations was submitted by Turkey to the Committee on Safeguards on 20 April 2018.

It thus now joins China, the European Union, India and the Russian Federation in requesting consultations with the United States over its measures following the Presidential Proclamations on Steel and Aluminium issued by President Donald Trump under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 imposing additional tariffs on these products.

In imposing the additional duties on steel and aluminum imports (25% for steel and 10% for aluminium) under Section 232, but granting exemptions from the additional tariffs to some of its strategic allies, the US has claimed that it was doing so on grounds of "national security".

However, China, the European Union, India, the Russian Federation, and now also Turkey, have categorically refuted the US claims of instituting these S.232 measures on grounds of "national security", arguing instead that these measures are in essence "safeguard" actions under the WTO's Agreement on Safeguards.

Meanwhile, the United States has informed the Russian Federation that while it was ready to consult with it, the steel and aluminum tariff measures are not "safeguard measures" and thus are not covered by the consultation provision s of the Safeguards Agreement.

In its request for consultations with the United States under Article 12.3 of the Safeguards Agreement (G/SG/ 183), Turkey said that on 8 March 2018, the United States issued presidential proclamations which indicate that steel and aluminum articles are being imported into the United States in such quantities and under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security of the United States, and adjust the imports of steel and aluminum articles imposing a tariff increase, effective from 23 March 2018.

"Although the United States explain these measures on grounds of national security, Turkey considers them as safeguard measures."

According to Article 12.3 of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, adequate opportunity for prior consultations shall be provided before the application of any safeguard measure, with a view to, reviewing the information provided under Article 12.2 and exchanging views on the measure and reaching an understanding on ways to achieve the objective set out in Article 8.1 of the Agreement.

"As a major exporter having substantial interest on these products, Turkey hereby requests consultations with the United States in accordance with the Article 12.3 of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards."

Turkey said that it seeks to exchange views on the measure and reach an understanding on ways to achieve the objective set out in Article 8.1 of the Agreement.

[Article 12.3 of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards states: "A Member proposing to apply or extend a safeguard measure shall provide adequate opportunity f or prior consultations with those Members having a substantial interest as exporters of the product concerned, with a view to, inter alia, reviewing the information provided under paragraph 2, exchanging views on the measure and reaching an understanding on ways to achieve the objective set out in paragraph 1 of Ar ticle 8."

[Article 8.1 states: "A Member proposing to apply a safeguard measure or se eking an extension of a safeguard measure shall endeavour to maintain a substantially equivalent level of concessions and other obligations to that existing under GATT 1994 between it and the exporting Members which would be affected by such a measure, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 3 of Article 12. To achieve this objective, the Members concerned may agree on any adequate mea ns of trade compensation for the adverse effects of the measure on their trade."]

Turkey said that it looks forward to a prompt response to its request from the United States and suggests to set a mutually convenient date and venue for the abovementioned consultations.

"Turkey reserves all its rights under the WTO Agreement and its Annexes," said the communication from Turkey.

Meanwhile, in a communication to the Committee on Safeguards dated 19 April 2018 (G/SG/182), the United States said that it has received the Russian Federation's request for consultations under Article 12.3 of the Agreement on Safeguards with respect to the Proclamations issued with respect to steel ad aluminum on 8 March 2018.

The United States said that the premise for the Russian Federation's request for consultations under Article 12.3 of the Agreement on Safeguards is that the Steel and Aluminum Proclamations are safeguard measures for purposes of that Agreement.

The President issued the Steel and Aluminum Proclamations pursuant to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, under which the President determine d that tariffs are necessary to adjust imports of steel and aluminum articles that threaten to impair the national security of the United States.

"These actions are not safeguard measures, and therefore, there is no basis to conduct consultations under the Agreement on Safeguards with respect to these measures," the United States maintained.

The United States did not take action pursuant to Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, which is the law under which the United States imposes safeguard measures. It did not submit notifications with respect to these measures because they are not safeguard measures.

"As evidenced by our recent notifications with respect to solar products an d washers, the United States is well aware of its notification obligations f or safeguards measures under the Agreement on Safeguards," said the US.

Article 12.3 of the Agreement on Safeguards states that a "Member proposing to apply or extend a safeguard measure shall provide adequate opportunity for prior consultations" with Members having a substantial interest in exports of the product concerned.

However, the United States is not proposing "to apply or extend a safeguard measure" with respect to steel or aluminum, and therefore Article 12.3 does not apply.

"Accordingly, the Russian Federation's request for consultations pursuant to Article 12.3 has no basis in the Agreement on Safeguards."

Nonetheless, said the United States, "we are open to discuss this or any other issue with the Russian Federation."

"Any discussions regarding the Proclamations would not be under the Agreement on Safeguards and would be without prejudice to our view that the Proclamations are not safeguard measures," the US communication concluded.

 


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