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Commerce Ministry studying impact of duty hike by US on steel, aluminium products

Official says if any country drags the US to WTO dispute settlement panel against the duty hike, India may consider joining the case as observer or third party

PTI | New Delhi |

The Commerce Ministry is studying the impact of duty hike by the US on certain steel and aluminium products as India exports these goods worth about USD 2 billion per annum to America.

US President Donald Trump has imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, sparking fears of a global trade war. Trump signed two proclamations that levied a 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imported from all countries except Canada and Mexico. The contentious tariffs will go into effect in 15 days.

“India is keeping a close watch on the development. It is studying the impact of duty hike India’s exports to America,” said an official.

With hike in tariffs by the US government, exports of these products to the American market will become expensive and could impact the competitiveness of domestic items.

As per estimates, India exports steel and aluminium goods worth USD 2 billion to the US every year.

The official further said that if any country drags the US in the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) dispute settlement panel against this decision, India could also consider joining as an observer or third party in the case.

Under the WTO norms, member countries can file a petition in the multi lateral trade body if a a decision of its trading partner does not comply with international trade rules.

As many as 17 countries, including India, had earlier expressed concern over the US plans to raise tariffs during the General Council Meeting of the WTO at Geneva in Switzerland.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia had said there was a global ‘disquiet’ over the decision of the Trump administration to raise duties on steel and aluminium beyond the bound rate.

India too had raised duties in the past on host of items but never went beyond the bound rate or its commitment to the WTO.