US steel and aluminium duties: WTO panel rules in favour of Switzerland

Bern, 09.12.2022

On December 9, 2022, the panel issued its final report in the WTO dispute settlement proceedings in which Switzerland challenged the measures imposed since 2018 by the US on steel and aluminium. The panel concluded that the US measures are contrary to the GATT and thus ruled in favour of Switzerland

Since  March 23, 2018, the United States (US) has been applying additional duties of 25 percent on imports of certain steel products and 10 % on imports of certain aluminium products, invoking national security concerns. Like eight other WTO Members, Switzerland initiated WTO dispute settlement proceedings in 2018. The proceedings have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have lasted more than four years in total.

The panel followed the legal arguments by Switzerland. In its report, the panel concludes that the US measures are contrary to several provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Goods (GATT), and that they are not justified by the security exception provided for in that agreement.

This report does not put into question the right of WTO Members to take measures to protect their security interests. It confirms that Members have a broad discretion in this respect, provided they meet certain minimum requirements, compliance with which can be examined by a WTO panel.