Russia joins fray, files WTO suit vs 232 tariffs

Russia has filed a lawsuit against the United States at the World Trade Organization over US Section 232 tariffs on aluminium and steel product imports, the press office of Russian minister of economic development Maxim Oreshkin confirmed to American Metal Market.

“Russia sent a request for consultations with the United States of America as part of the WTO dispute resolution procedure in connection with additional duties on ferrous metals and aluminium products,” Oreshkin said. “The cause of the claim was numerous violations of the WTO rules, which were admitted by the US when the measure was introduced.”

Russia follows in the footsteps of China, India, Mexico, Norway, the European Union and Canada - all of which have taken action against the US at the WTO.

“Consultations are [at] the first stage of the WTO dispute settlement procedure, intended so parties can find mutually acceptable ways of settling a dispute. If a [mutually acceptable agreement] is not found, Russia will be able to apply for the establishment of an arbitration group at the WTO to consider the dispute,” Oreshkin said.

The minister had alluded to the possibility of a WTO complaint in early June, and separately threatened to levy $537.6 million in duties against some US goods.

The ministry is determining which US goods will be targeted with duties and is working on submitting a draft proposal to the government, it told American Metal Market on Monday June 25.

Russia’s UC Rusal remains subject to US sanctions, irrespective of the Section 232 tariffs. The world’s second-largest aluminium producer’s forced exit from the US market has caused US aluminium premiums to soar.

American Metal Market’s assessment of the P1020 Midwest premium stood at 20.50-21 cents per lb on Friday, a near three-month low but still more than double the 9.40-9.50 cents per lb recorded at the start of this year. The premium hit over a three-year high of 22-23 cents on April 10.

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