The United States has the right to impose commercial tariffs to protect its national interests. But when countries retaliate, they break the rules, said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer without a sense of hypocrisy.
“President [Donald] Trump has taken steps on the steel and aluminum trade to protect our national security interests. These actions are entirely legitimate and fully justified, both as a matter of US law and WTO rules,” said Lighthizer in a statement on Tuesday.
“On the other hand, the European Union (EU) has invented an unfounded legal theory to justify the immediate tariffs on US exports. Other WTO members, including China, have adopted a similar approach,” he added.
Still, according to Lighthizer, “these retaliation rates emphasize the complete hypocrisy that governs much of the global trading system.”
“For months, the EU, China and others have criticized US trade policy while claiming to defend the WTO, but their recent tariffs prove that they simply ignore WTO rules whenever it is appropriate,” he added.
Lighthizer was referring to Article XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which allows members of the trade organization to protect security interests.
The US has imposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, alleging security interests. China, Russia, Japan, India, Turkey and the EU said tariffs can not be explained by US security concerns.
“President Trump’s actions in relation to steel and aluminum are clearly within the legitimate scope of Article XXI. Faced with the enormous overcapacity that endangers the future of our steel and aluminum industries, President Trump has taken certain measures that are considered essential for the national security of the United States,” said Lighthizer.
The European Union will charge goods from the US with tariffs worth €2.8 billion after Washington imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum in Europe. Russia, Turkey, India and other countries will also introduce sanctions against US products.