India is likely to approach the WTO’s dispute settlement body on its own, questioning the duty hike on steel and aluminium products by the US, after American authorities made an exception for the European Union, Australia, Canada and Mexico late on Thursday evening.
Sources told TOI that the government was hoping to piggyback the EU, which had threatened to act against the US action and was expected to approach the WTO. But with the Europeans now outside the ambit of the hike, the government will now have to change it strategy, said an official, who did not wish to be identified.
Brazil, South Korea, Japan and EU questioned the US action (without naming it) when trade ministers and envoys from over 50 countries met in the Capital on Tuesday. Norway was the only country to name the US, while contesting the action.
Officially, the government has maintained that it is seeking legal opinion on the issue. However, experts and former trade officials, who have been consulted, have advised the authorities to take a strong position, although India’s exports of the two industrial commodities do not have a significant share.
The issue also becomes important given that the US is also threatening to drag India to WTO for half-a-dozen export promotion schemes, arguing that the government is subsidising exports, which is against global trade rules, and impacting American businesses and workers.