WTO Panel Challenges Legality of 232 Tariffs
By Dan Markham
on Dec 12, 2022
Since Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump in January 2021, there have been few things from the previous administration the new president has held onto. Section 232 tariffs were one of the exceptions, with the 46th president making no moves to mothball the 25 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum products, enacted on the idea they were necessary to safeguard our national security interests.
The Biden administration's commitment to the tariffs will be put to the test by an international trade panel.
Last week, a three-person World Trade Organization panel ruled against the tariffs, claiming they contravened global trading rules. Their ruling was in response to disputes filed by a disparate group of trading partners: Norway, China, Switzerland and Turkey.
U.S. steelmaking interests were quick to denounce the ruling. Kevin Dempsey, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said the WTO panel overstepped its bounds by treading on U.S. national security interests. Tom Conway, president of AISI's occasional partner, the United Steelworkers International, offered a similar assessment. And Nucor's Leon Topalian called for reform of "the broken system" of the WTO's dispute process.
Most notably, the U.S. has signaled it will appeal the decision, reaffirming the idea the new regime has no intention of eliminating the tariff.