U.S. Files WTO Lawsuit Over Russia’s Response to Metals Tariffs

The United States has filed a lawsuit against Russia at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for imposing tariffs in retaliation for U.S. duties that targeted Russian steel and aluminum earlier this year, Reuters reports.

The filing, submitted on August 29, said Russia tariffs applied only to U.S. products and not to goods from any other country. It also charged that the Russian duties exceeded the maximum allowed under membership terms with the global trade organization.

The lawsuit initiates a 60-day consultation period that allows the parties to settle the dispute bilaterally. If no agreement is reached, the United States could ask the WTO to decide the matter.

Washington imposed tariffs of 25 percent on foreign steel and 10 percent on aluminum in March, citing national security reasons. They mainly targeted China but affected other countries as well, including Russia.

State-run news agency TASS quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying Moscow would use a “broad range” of counterarguments to defend itself in the WTO.

The Russian Economy Ministry said on Wednesday the U.S. “wrongly interpreted” Russia’s response to the U.S. metals tariffs.

“The U.S. wrongly interprets the nature of measures taken by the Russian side. We act within the framework of WTO agreement on special protection measures, which makes possible to compensate damages from “special protection measures” taken by another country [the U.S. in this case],” the Ministry says in a comment.

On July 6, Moscow imposed additional import tariffs on some U.S. products in response to U.S. moves, focusing on goods for which there are Russian-made substitutes.

The tariffs of 25 to 40 percent applied to some road-construction equipment, oil and gas equipment, metal-processing instruments, drilling equipment, and optical fiber.

The ministry said the measures were designed to compensate for $88 million in damages suffered by Russian export-focused companies as a result of the U.S. metals tariffs. It suggested additional moves were possible.