Commentary: U.S. counterclaim on steel, aluminum tariffs has gangster logic

Added On July 21, 2018

   by Xinhua writers Zhu Dongyang, Gao Pan, Ye Shan

   BEIJING, July 20 (Xinhua) -- The United States filed challenges against China, the European Union (EU), Canada, Mexico and Turkey at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday, claiming that the U.S.-initiated steel and aluminum tariffs were "wholly legitimate and fully justified" on national security grounds, while the countermeasures taken by these economies were "completely without justification."
   The United States is fiddling around with double standards and violating international rules, and its bullying has been resisted by other WTO members.
   First of all, steel and aluminum are mostly civil products which are part of the commodities in international trade. If imports of steel and aluminum harm national security, there would be no product that does not harm national security.
   The imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports with the excuse of "national security" is an abuse of the WTO's national security exception clause. Such an abuse would put the entire international trading system and multilateral trade rules at risk, and cause serious damage to the multilateral trading system.
   According to the statistics of the U.S. Commerce Department and Defense Department, steel imports only account for about one-third of its domestic consumption, of which the U.S. defense industry needs only 3 percent.
   It is safe to say that U.S. domestic steel production is sufficient to meet the needs of national defense, and it is impossible for steel imports to harm its "national security."
   International trade experts have repeatedly pointed out that U.S. imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum is utter trade protection. This has become a broad consensus among WTO members. It is clear who is undermining and violating multilateral trade rules.
   Secondly, during its negotiations with trade partners over the exemption of steel and aluminum tariffs, Washington forced them to implement "voluntary export restraint." Such an attempt to bring back the quota era is another serious violation of WTO norms.
   While the United States imposed high tariffs on steel and aluminum, it granted exemptions to some individual economies for political and economic reasons. Washington's discriminatory double standards violate the WTO's most-favored-nation treatment principle.
   The United States has abandoned multilateral trade rules in favor of self-serving double standards, forcing some economies to set limits on their exports, while granting exemptions to others solely for its own interests, thus seriously disrupting the international trade order.
   Thirdly, the fight against U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs by other economies is a righteous move to uphold the basic principles of the WTO and safeguard the multilateral trading system. It is also a necessary move to urge Washington to comply with its WTO obligations.
   It is a typical gangster logic for the United States to impose tariffs and not allow others to retaliate.
   The current multilateral trading system, represented by the WTO, was established by all parties worldwide through consultation, and the more than 160 members, including the United States, are obliged to follow the rules of the world trade body.
   As the world's largest economy and a founding member of the WTO, the United States' trade bullying has threatened the foundation of the multilateral trading system. If other economies do not fight back, the international trade system will be reduced to a status that is governed by the "law of the jungle."
   The international community sees clearly who wields sticks of high tariffs at will at the price of international trade rules, or who is taking necessary "legitimate defense" to uphold the multilateral trading system.
   It is also believed that the WTO will make a just verdict.  Enditem