“The actions taken by the President are wholly legitimate and fully justified," USTR says

“The actions taken by the President are wholly legitimate and fully justified," USTR says

The US has formally challenged duty increases imposed by China, the European Union (EU), Turkey, Canada and Mexico on more than US$20bn of US exports in retaliation for additional steel and aluminium tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.

The US says the five separate World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement cases are justified under international agreements. However it says retaliatory duties on US exports imposed by China, the EU, Canada, Mexico and Turkey are completely without justification under international rules.

The administration is asking each of the five trading partners for consultations under the WTO's dispute settlement procedures.

The five cases target duties by China on US$3bn of US exports, the EU on $3.2bn, Turkey on $1.8bn, Canada on $12.7bn, and Mexico on $3.6bn.

"The actions taken by the President are wholly legitimate and fully justified as a matter of US law and international trade rules," says US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. "Instead of working with us to address a common problem, some of our trading partners have elected to respond with retaliatory tariffs designed to punish American workers, farmers and companies. These tariffs appear to breach each WTO Member's commitments under the WTO Agreement.

"The United States will take all necessary actions to protect our interests, and we urge our trading partners to work constructively with us on the problems created by massive and persistent excess capacity in the steel and aluminium sectors."

The US action is just one of a number of WTO litigations filed over President Donald Trump's tariffs. Eight trading partners – China, India, the EU, Canada, Mexico, Norway, Russia and Switzerland – have so far filed complaints to the WTO against the US steel and aluminium tariffs.

China has also filed a number of cases against the US tariffs under a separate proceeding focused on Chinese intellectual rights abuses.

Analysts believe the threat to apparel and footwear could escalate beyond the incremental US$200bn tariffs announced by the US administration last week, with disruption of the retail supply chain within China and a boycotting of US brands all likely scenarios.