Historical archive

WTO Appellate Body confirms that US safeguard measures on steel imports are inconsistent with WTO rules

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Jan Petersen welcomed the WTO Appellate Body’s decision that the US safeguard measures are illegal. (12.11.03)

Press release

No.: 191/03
Date: 11.11.2003

WTO Appellate Body confirms that US safeguard measures on steel imports are inconsistent with WTO rules

Foreign Minister Jan Petersen welcomed the World Trade Organisation Appellate Body’s decision that the US safeguard measures are illegal. This clearly shows that the multilateral trading regime functions as intended and that even small countries like Norway can prevail. It also demonstrates that membership of the WTO is beneficial for Norway. The Foreign Minister expects the USA to lift the measures on Norwegian exports immediately.

Background

In March 2002 the USA imposed countervailing duties and other safeguard measures on imports of a number of steel products for a three-year period. The measures affected exports from a number of countries and triggered strong international reactions. In Norway’s case, the measures affected exports of tin mill products to the USA from the Bergen firm Corus Packaging Plus.

A number of countries affected by the US measures, including Norway, initiated WTO dispute settlement procedures against the USA. In July 2003, a Dispute Settlement Panel ruled that the US measures were inconsistent with WTO provisions. The USA appealed the decision. On 10 November the WTO Appellate Body upheld the Panel’s findings. Thus the complainants’ views have been fully accepted. The Appellate Body’s decision is final, and will become binding on the USA when it has been upheld by the Dispute Settlement Body, which is expected to happen on 1 December.

This is the first time Norway has brought a dispute settlement case to the WTO, and no case has ever been brought against Norway. In addition to Norway, the complainants were the EU, Japan, Korea, China, Switzerland, New Zealand and Brazil.

Norway expects the USA to lift the measures immediately. If it fails to do so, Norway is, in accordance with its WTO rights, prepared to introduce re-balancing measures in the form of an additional duty on imports of various US goods. Norway notified the WTO and the USA to this effect in May 2002, indicating that such measures could be applied to certain steel products, clothing, wine, tobacco, apples and sporting and hunting weapons. Re-balancing measures may be introduced in the course of December.

The full text of the Appellate Body’s decision is available at www.wto.org.