India, 7 other WTO members slam EU & UK over steel duty

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NEW DELHI: India, China and Russia, along with five other World Trade Organization (WTO) members, on Monday criticised the European Union’s decision to extend its existing safeguard measure on certain steel products beyond June 30.At a WTO meeting, they argued that the EU’s safeguard duty – brought into force after the United States in 2018 imposed additional duties on certain categories of steel imports from the bloc – was inconsistent with the global trade body’s rules.WTO members, including India, also criticised similar duties imposed by the United Kingdom.”The EU said it has evidence that the steel safeguard measure continues to be necessary,” said a Geneva-based official, who did not wish to be identified.During the meeting, China and Korea said the rationale for the extension of the measure was ill-founded, while Brazil argued that the only sustainable solutions for the global problem of excess steel capacity were those based on multilateral or plurilateral cooperation instead of unilateral protectionist measures.Retaliatory measuresIn 2021, India had proposed to impose additional import duties worth 292 million on select products from the EU as retaliation against the safeguard measures.It then proposed additional customs duties of 15% on the import of 22 products – including whisky, cheese and diesel engine parts – from the UK, in retaliation to the latter’s decision to impose restrictions on steel products after it exited the EU.UK to decide on extensionThe UK will decide whether to extend the measure by June 30, when the safeguard expires.”Several members said the UK has been imposing safeguard measures against imports of steel products since it was a member of the EU and continued to do so even after Brexit,” the official said.The WTO members alleged that the UK failed to carry out an investigation justifying the measures in line with the WTO rules.Under the global trade body’s Safeguards Agreement, members can restrict the imports of a product temporarily by imposing higher tariffs or other measures if its domestic industry is seriously injured.The measures apply to all imports, and not just those from a particular country, and should not last more than four years.However, developing countries accounting for less than 3% of the exports are excluded from such measures.

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