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EU asks WTO for safeguards over US steel, aluminum tariffs

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GENEVA — The European Union (EU) on Monday followed China in complaining to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

“Having a substantial interest as an exporter in this case, the European Union requests consultations with the United States” to agree “safeguards,” the EU said in a statement published on the world trade body’s Web site.

US President Donald Trump sparked fears of a trade war in March when he decided to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, primarily to target China, but also EU countries.

Brussels said in the document the aim of the discussions would be to “exchange views and seek clarification regarding the proposed measures” and to reach “an understanding on ways to achieve” protection, as set out in the WTO’s Agreement on Safeguards.

The EU said it wanted to hold the consultations “as soon as possible.”

“The discussions between the EU and the US are currently ongoing. Contacts continue at several levels, notably on the issue of global overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sectors,” a European Commission source said. “In these discussions, the European Commission is insisting on getting a full and unconditional exemption from the announced steel and aluminum tariffs.”

On April 5 China also filed a complaint with the WTO, but Beijing went through its Dispute Settlement Body. — AFP