1211 GMT July 17, 2018
“From Switzerland’s point of view, the additional duties, which according to the US have been introduced to protect national security, are unjustified,” said a statement issue by the ministry on Tuesday, presstv.com reported.
Switzerland had on Monday “submitted a request for consultations with the US as part of WTO dispute settlement proceedings,” the statement said, adding that the country had exported steel and aluminum products to the US last year to the tune of nearly 80 million Swiss francs (80.7 million dollars).
“The US has not responded to Switzerland’s request for an exemption from the tariffs to date,” the statement said, adding that the request for WTO consultations had been launched “in order to protect Switzerland’s interests.”
The ministry, however, did not mention potential retaliation, though other nations that have launched WTO challenges have warned they would impose matching tariffs on American products.
According to the report, Washington has 60 days to resolve the dispute under WTO guidelines, after which Bern could further challenge the US by calling on the international body to establish a panel of judges to arbitrate the case.
The development came a week after major US trading partners — including the European Union (EU), China, and Japan — voiced profound concerns at the WTO about potential trading measures by Washington in imposing additional duties on imported automobiles and parts.
Japan, which along with Russia had initiated the discussion at the WTO Council on Trade in Goods, cautioned that such efforts could prompt a spiral of counter-measures and lead to the collapse of the rules-based multilateral trading system, said an official attending a WTO meeting last week.
Washington has imposed tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports and is conducting another “national security” study that could lead to tariffs on imports of vehicles and auto parts. Both sets of tariffs, the US claims, would be based on worries about American national security.
Meanwhile, more than 40 WTO members, including the 28 EU countries, warned that the US measure would seriously disrupt the world market and threaten the WTO system, considering the significance of cars in international trade.
The EU, however, has also warned Washington that imposing import tariffs on cars and auto parts would harm its own automotive industry and will likely result in counter-measures by its trading partners on 294 billion dollars’ worth of US exports.
Moreover, other countries such as China, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Singapore, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Qatar, Thailand, and India have also echoed the concerns and expressed doubts that the US tariffs were in line with WTO regulations.