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EU requests WTO consultations with US over Section 232 steel, aluminum tariffs

London — The EU requested Monday consultations with the US Monday over its Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, the World Trade Organization said Tuesday.

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The request to the WTO, under article 12.3 of the Safeguards Agreement, suggests the action is a safeguard, despite purportedly being in the name of national security.

Other nations, such as China, have also said 232 is essentially a safeguard.

In its request, the EU said the US had "failed to notify the measure to the WTO's Safeguards Committee" as required by article 12.1.

However, China previously made a similar request to which the US responded by reiterating the tariffs were not safeguards and that President Donald Trump had "deemed that tariffs are necessary to adjust imports of steel and aluminum articles that threaten to impair the national security of the United States."

The EU said the aim of the consultations is "to exchange views and seek clarification regarding the proposed measures and reaching an understanding on ways to achieve the objectives set out in Article 8.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards."

The EU is exempt from the 25% steel tariffs imposed by the US until May 1.

The European Commission is conducting its own safeguarding investigation in response to 232, which could result in provisional duties or tariff free quotas.

--Colin Richardson, colin.richardson@spglobal.com
--Edited by Jonathan Fox, jonathan.fox@spglobal.com