August 29, 2018 / 2:04 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. goes to WTO to challenge Russian response to Trump's steel tariffs

FILE PHOTO: Rolled steel is seen after being treated on the pickle line at the Severstal steel mill in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S., June 21, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States launched a complaint against Russia at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Wednesday, challenging measures introduced by Russia in response to recent U.S. tariffs on global steel and aluminium exports.

Imposed in July, the measures in question featuring extra duties on a limited range of U.S. goods were a limited response to the U.S. tariffs, aimed at compensating for just $87.6 million (67.95 million pounds) of the $537.6 million Russia expects the hike to cost its companies.

The United States said Russia’s measures broke WTO rules by applying only to U.S. imports, and not to goods from any other country, and because the rates of duty were higher than the maximum allowed under its WTO membership terms.

Russia now has 60 days to settle the dispute, after which the United States could ask the WTO to set up a panel to adjudicate.

“The United States has incorrectly interpreted the nature of the measures taken by Russia,” Russia’s economy ministry said in a statement.

“We are acting within the framework of the WTO agreement on special protective measures, which allows countries to compensate for damages incurred as a result of ‘special protective measures’ taken by another country (in this case, the United States),” the ministry said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call it was Washington’s right to file a case to the WTO, but that “in this instance Russia will of course use its full range of counter-arguments”.

The exchange comes amid a large-scale trade war between the United States and China, which has seen the world’s two biggest economies slap major tit-for-tat duties on each other’s imports.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and David Holmes

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