Switzerland launches dispute at WTO over 'unjustified' US tariffs


(Photo: CGTN)

Switzerland has launched a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against "unjustified" US steel and aluminum tariffs, the Swiss Economy Ministry said Tuesday in a statement.

"From Switzerland's point of view, the additional duties, which according to the US have been introduced to protect national security, are unjustified," the official statement said.

Noting that the United States has not responded to a Swiss request for an exemption from the tariffs to date, Swiss Federal Councilor for Economic Affairs Johann N. Schneider-Ammann decided to "initiate WTO dispute settlement proceedings," the statement said.

The United States imposed additional duties on imports of specific steel and aluminum products in March, and the Swiss government described the move as "having effects on Switzerland."

Switzerland first intervened with the United States in March and also submitted a formal request to the US administration for a country-specific exemption from these import duties.

According to the Swiss government, in 2017, Swiss exports of the steel and aluminum products amounted to around some 80 million US dollars.

Other WTO members affected by the tariffs, such as Canada, Mexico, the European Union (EU) and Norway, have also requested consultations with the United States.

The United States had exempted the EU, Canada and Mexico from the tariffs until June. Following the expiration of the exemptions, the Trump administration additionally announced a 20-percent import tariff on all EU-assembled vehicles.

The EU has launched legal proceedings in June against the US tariffs at the WTO.

Under the WTO rules, if 60 days pass without consultations resolving the dispute, Switzerland can ask the body to set up a dispute panel, which means the beginning of a lengthy legal battle.