US ambassador warns EU against challenging national security claim in WTO tariff dispute

Monday, 29 October 2018 22:58:12 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

In a monthly dispute settlement meeting at the World Trade Organization today, US Ambassador Dennis Shea asked European Union governments to reassess whether it’s in their “best interest” to proceed with a trade dispute over the US’ Section 232 tariffs.

According to a report from Reuters, Shea said he was “deeply disappointed” with the EU’s stance.

“We would encourage the European countries to consider carefully their broader economic, political, and security interests,” Shea said during the meeting, which was reportedly considering 12 requests for adjudication over US tariffs and related retaliation.

Four countries affected by the Section 232 tariffs—China, Norway, Russia and Turkey—asked the WTO to judge the legality of the US tariffs, specifically the US claim that they are based on national security and therefore outside WTO jurisdiction.

Traditionally, national security claims have been avoided during the WTO’s 23-year history, as trade diplomats worried about the “domino effect” of countries using national security as a pretense to evade various trade obligations, but Shea warned against challenging the US’ claim.

 “The United States wishes to be clear: if the WTO were to undertake to review an invocation of (the national security exemption), this would undermine the legitimacy of the WTO’s dispute settlement system and even the viability of the WTO as a whole,” he said.

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