WTO backs U.S. in case against China duties on steel

GENEVA/WASHINGTON, Fri Jun 15, 2012 – A World Trade Organisation panel on Friday ruled in favor of the United States in a case against import duties imposed by China on a specialty steel product used in power transformers.

“With respect to each of the 11 programs at issue, the panel concluded that China had acted inconsistently” with WTO rules governing the use of countervailing duties, the panel said in its ruling.

The case involved Chinese duties on potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of “grain-oriented flat-rolled electrical steel” (GOES), a specialty steel product made by AK Steel Corp of Ohio and ATI Allegheny Ludlum of Pennsylvania.

“Today’s victory is important not only for steelworkers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, but also for American farmers and workers in other sectors that export to China,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.

“The panel upheld our claims that China’s duties on U.S. exports of steel products failed to comply with many WTO rules. This decision sends another clear signal to China that it must do more to fulfill its WTO commitments, and that it will be held accountable to play by WTO rules,” he said.

U.S. nears sanctions phase in Airbus trade spat

, Thu Mar 29, 2012 – The United States is expected to ratchet up pressure on the European Union to end subsidies for Airbus by moving at the World Trade Organization toward retaliation on European goods, an industry official and other sources said.

“I’m hearing that the USTR will take the next step soon,” an industry official said, referring to the WTO process for obtaining permission to retaliate, referring to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

An EU plan in December for ending subsidies declared illegal by the WTO had failed to satisfy either Boeing or the U.S. government, the official and other sources said.

The next step in the process is for the United States to ask the WTO for a “compliance panel” to assess whether European governments had ended their illegal subsidies.

That could lead to U.S. sanctions on exports from Britain, France, Germany, Spain and potentially other European nations if the WTO panel agrees the steps taken to end Airbus subsidies have been inadequate.

Washington has already said it could seek as much $7 billion to $10 billion in sanctions. The process of obtaining WTO permission could take 6 months to a year and the amount approved could be less than requested.

Many analysts expect the two sides to reach a negotiated settlement before any sanctions are imposed.