The dispute settlement body of World Trade
Organization (WTO) has agreed to set up a panel to assess if high customs
duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminum products infringes
global trade norms according to sources in the Commerce Ministry..
India had approached Geneva-based WTO for setting
up of the dispute panel as both the countries failed to resolve the issue in a
bilateral consultation process under the dispute settlement mechanism of the
"The dispute settlement body has agreed to
establish a panel to rule whether additional duties imposed by the US on
imports of certain steel and aluminum products comply with WTO rules,
Consultation is the first step of the dispute
settlement process at the WTO. If the two countries are not able to reach a
mutually agreed solution through consultation, a country can request for a WTO
dispute settlement panel to review the matter.
Imposition of high import duties on these items
by the US has impacted exports of these products by Indian businesses. India
has alleged that the US move is also not in compliance with global trade norms.
Besides India, Russia, Norway, Canada, Mexico,
Switzerland, and European Union have also dragged the US in the WTO on
Washington's move to impose 25 per cent and 10 per cent import duties on
certain steel and aluminum products, respectively, which triggered global trade
India has a significant export interest to the US
on the steel and aluminum sector. India exports steel and aluminum goods worth
about 1.6 billion US Dollars a year to the US. The US had imposed these duties
on grounds of national security. Dragging the US in the dispute over the issue
is not in favor of India, as New Delhi has a trade surplus with Washington.
India's exports to the US in 2017-18 stood at
about 48 billion, US Dollars while imports were 26.7 billion US Dollars. Both
the countries are also involved in several other disputes in the WTO. Those
disputes are in the areas of poultry, export incentives, solar and steel.
In retaliation to the imposition of duties by the
US, India has decided to increase customs duty on 29 American products such as
almond, walnut, pulses and iron and steel items. The duties would come into
effect from December 17.