Federal Government sees “no basis” for US tariffs on steel

In the dispute over steel and aluminum exports to the US, the German government is resolutely resisting allegations from Washington. “We do not share the view that European or even German steel imports could threaten US national security,” said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Brigitte Zypries (SPD) of the “Welt am Sonntag” (18 February 2018). “Therefore, there is no basis for any unilateral US import restrictions on steel. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Steel Forum are the right platforms to tackle the problem of global steel overcapacity. ”

On Friday evening, the US Department of Commerce announced that it considers protective measures in favor of domestic steel and aluminum manufacturers a national security issue. President Donald Trump must now decide by mid-April if he will follow the proposals made. The dispute about punitive tariffs for steel and aluminum has been smoldering for years between the US, the Europeans and China. The background is global overcapacity. “The Chinese overcapacity is a problem for the world economy, not only for the US,” said the President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Dieter Kempf, compared to the “Welt am Sonntag”.

But import restrictions such as duties are “the wrong answer”, says Kempf. It was also “more than questionable whether these import restrictions would be WTO-compliant on the basis of national security concerns”. US solo efforts could also result in countermeasures from other countries. “That would hit the trading nation Germany quickly,” warns the BDI president. After the announcement of the Ross report, South Korea had promptly declared that it would call the WTO. China announced countermeasures without specifying them.