US wins WTO ruling on Chinese speciality steel tariffs

3 August 2015

China failed to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling that found its tariffs on a type of speciality steel products breached global trade rules, a WTO panel said in a ruling on Friday.

The ruling noted, however, that China had stopped applying the tariffs in April, while the WTO hearings were going on, more than four and a half years after the United States first complained.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Chinese tariffs had contributed to over $200 million in annual export losses for U.S. steelmakers.

"The Obama Administration is committed to standing up for American workers," Froman said in a statement.

"When China decided to maintain its WTO illegal duties, we did not hesitate to challenge that action. The WTO report confirms we were right." Froman said it was the first time any country had challenged China over compliance with a WTO ruling.

China's Ministry of Commerce said on its website that it welcomed parts of the ruling that rejected several of the U.S. arguments.

The United States brought the case in 2010 after China imposed punitive duties on U.S. exports of grain oriented flat-rolled electrical steel, used in the cores of high-efficiency transformers, electric motors and generators.

The steel is made by AK Steel Corp of Ohio and ATI Allegheny Ludlum of Pennsylvania.

China had said U.S. steel was being "dumped", or sold at unfairly low prices, on its market but a WTO ruling in 2012 faulted its use of punitive duties.

In January 2014, the United States went back to the WTO, complaining that China had not complied with that ruling.