WTO sets panel for US-Mexico steel dispute

Thursday, 31 January 2019 00:44:58 (GMT+3)   |   Sao Paulo

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has officially appointed the members of a panel to oversee a dispute between Mexico and the US over the Section 232 steel tariffs. Elbio Rosselli will be the panel’s chairperson, while Esteban B. Conejos Jr. and Rodrigo Valenzuela will work as panel members, according to the WTO.

Mexico requested on June 5, 2018 a consultation with the WTO over the US decision to impose duties on certain imported steel products. At the time, Mexico argued, among other things, the steel tariff “appeared to be inconsistent” with several US obligations under certain provisions, including WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

On November 21, 2018, WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) established a panel, following Mexico’s request to do so. More recently, on January 7, 2019, Mexico asked WTO to appoint the members of the panel.

According to the WTO, a dispute starts with a “consultation,” involving a 60-day period for remediation, in case the non-complaining party accepts entering into an agreement. If a deal isn’t reached, the WTO may set up a panel and appoint panelists at the request of the complainant.

In the next phase, the panel reports to the parties during a period of up to six months. Later, the final panel reports to the WTO members. The disputing process could last as long as a year and half, if there are appeals, or a year, if there’s no appeal.

The WTO listed several countries as “third parties,” including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the European Union, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine, among others.

The US has so far argued the “tariffs imposed pursuant to Section 232 are issues of national security not susceptible to review or capable of resolution by WTO dispute settlement.”

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