Switzerland files official WTO case against Trump tariffs

Switzerland has become the latest country to file a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel and aluminium.

The European country initiated WTO dispute settlement proceedings over the “unjustified” new duties on Wednesday, following in the steps of US allies such as Canada, Mexico, and the European Union.

Mr Trump announced a 25 per cent tariff on foreign-made steel and a 10 per cent tariff on imported aluminium in March, claiming the duties were necessary to protect American industry.

Switzerland exported about $80m of steel and aluminium products to the US in 2017, according to a government statement.

“From Switzerland’s point of view, the additional duties, which according to the US have been introduced to protect national security, are unjustified,” the statement said.

The Swiss government has requested consultations through the WTO – the first step in initiating a dispute settlement proceeding. China, India, Canada, Mexico, Norway, Russia and the European Union have already done so. Several of these countries have also imposed retaliatory tariffs of their own.

China has also threatened to complain to the WTO over the US’s threats to impose a 10 per cent tariff on $200bn worth of Chinese goods unrelated to the steel and aluminium tariffs, according to Reuters. The Trump administration already placed tariffs on some $34bn worth of Chinese imports earlier this month.

Mr Trump has pushed for changes to the WTO’s dispute system, claiming the organisation treats the US “very, very badly”.

At a press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte earlier this month, the president made a veiled threat to pull out of the organisation.

The US has “a big disadvantage with the WTO,” Mr Trump told reporters. “And we’re not planning anything now, but if they don’t treat us properly, we’ll be doing something”.

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