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Germany encourages EU to lodge complaint with WTO over US steel duties

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called on the EU to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization over a decision by the Trump administration to impose anti-dumping duties on steel imports from Europe.

In a March 31 statement, he accused Washington of attempts to distort competition that "are not in line with WTO rules."

"The U.S. Government is apparently prepared to provide American companies with unfair competitive advantages over European and other producers, even if such action violates international trade law," he said.

On March 30, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued findings that said that steel producers from eight countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Belgium, were dumping carbon and alloy steel plate exports in the U.S. and were liable to pay anti-dumping duties. The list also included South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Gabriel said German steel companies Salzgitter AG and Dillinger Hütte would be affected and the EU must take steps to protect European steelmakers.

"The EU must now consider whether it, too, will lodge a complaint with the WTO. I strongly support this. We must take a decisive stance vis-à-vis the United States, in defense of fair competition and against creative accounting practices that disadvantage our German steel industry," said the minister.

He warned that if this effort by the American government to encourage unfair competition is successful, similar measures might be imposed in other industrial sectors.