Japan may seek WTO help to resolve India steel tariff dispute

9 June 2016

Japan said it may ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to help resolve a dispute related to India's "safeguard" tariffs on the import of hot-rolled steel.

Prompted by massive steel exports from the China, the world's top producer, countries including the United States and Australia as well as the European Union have imposed duties on steel imports. As the second-largest global steel producer, Japan's own exports are potentially under pressure because of these protectionist stances.

India has extended its safeguard import taxes on some steel products until March 2018, in a bid to stop cheap overseas purchases from flooding its market and bolster the domestic steel sector.

Japan will make repeated requests to the Indian authorities to ensure the consistency of their measures with the WTO agreements, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said in its annual report on unfair trade on Wednesday.

The India safeguard tariffs were placed as one of the priority issues that the METI will be working on, said Osamu Nishiwaki, director of rules and dispute settlement at METI, on Thursday.

"We will step up our bilateral discussions with India over the safeguard measures," he said.

Asked whether Japan may consider bringing the issue to the WTO soon, Nishiwaki said it will depend on the results of the bilateral talks.

Japan exported about 1.25 million tonnes of hot-rolled steel to India in 2015, or about 10 percent of its total hot-rolled exports of 13 million last year, according to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.

Japan earlier criticized India's tariffs and a decision to put minimum prices on imported iron and steel at a WTO meeting in April.

The METI report on Wednesday also identified Vietnam's safeguard measures against semi-finished steel products and steel bars as policies that may not be consistent with international rules.

Vietnam began provisionally imposing additional tariffs of about 23 percent on semi-finished steel products and 14 percent on steel bars from March, the report said.

The global trade dispute over steel escalated last month after the U.S. slapped Chinese steelmakers with final import duties of 522 percent on cold-rolled flat steel.

Still, Chinese steel exports rose 3.7 percent to 9.42 million tonnes in May from the previous month, customs data showed on Wednesday, as mills continued to ship output abroad.


Source : reuters.com