India and Switzerland today joined six other countries and the European Union (EU) in a lawsuit against the United States for its additional tariffs on steel and aluminum, for which the World Trade Organization (WTO) has agreed to the constitution of arbitration that will settle each case separately.
The decision was adopted at a meeting of the Dispute Resolution Body, after receiving a second request in that regard from the two countries, which, like the rest of the plaintiffs, are considered affected by the tariff measure.
The WTO rules indicate that the requesting country can block a first request for arbitration, but not a second one.
China, Canada, Mexico, Norway, Russia and Turkey, as well as the European Union as a bloc, called in November for a panel of WTO experts to analyze the case and determine if the tariffs are in line with international trade rules.
As it did on that occasion, the US again rejected the common request of all those countries for the nine demands to be studied by a single arbitration panel (made up of three members), since the content of their complaints is practically identical.
The measures denounced are the imposition of 10% additional tariffs on aluminum products and 25% on certain steel products.
During their argument at today's meeting, India and Switzerland said that the United States' commercial actions are, because of their content and effect, safeguard measures, and that they have nothing to do with "national security" reasons, such as the Government of President Donald Trump alleges.
An Indian diplomat argued at the meeting of the Dispute Resolution Body that the fact that seven other WTO members already have arbitration panels reflects the strong concern that the US has generated with its trade measures, as well as the confidence that there is in that the organization will have the capacity to resolve the litigation.
The US responded by noting that, given that it had invoked the national security argument, the arbitration panel can not evaluate the claims of India and Switzerland, nor of the other six countries or of the EU.
He added that if the panel decided to go ahead with the procedure, the legitimacy and even viability of the WTO would be at risk.