Turkey Goes to WTO For Consultations With U.S. Over Additional Steel, Aluminum Duties

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In the latest move in the recent saga of burgeoning tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, the latter has filed a request with the World Trade Organization (WTO) for consultations over the U.S.’s additional steel and aluminum tariffs.

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The request was circulated to WTO members Aug. 20.

The U.S. recently doubled its steel and aluminum tariffs on imports of the Turkish metals, raising the rates to 50% and 20%, respectively.

Tensions between the two nations have increased, as the U.S. has called for the release of a detained American pastor, Andrew Brunson. The Turkish government detained the pastor on espionage and terrorism-related charges. According to media reports, the U.S. rejected a deal offered by the Turkish government, in which the pastor would be released in exchange for forgiveness of billions of dollars in fines on a Turkish bank.

On the other hand, the Turkish government has continued to call for the extradition of religious leader Fetullah Gulen — currently living in exile in Pennsylvania — whom the government claims was behind the failed coup in 2016.

President Trump announced the doubling of the metals tariffs in a tweet Aug. 10, writing: “I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”

In response, Turkey imposed tariffs on U.S. imports, including automobiles, alcohol and tobacco.

The Turkish currency, the lira, has suffered in the process, as MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns explained last week. The lira has already been on the decline against the dollar in the past year, and proceeded to fall 20% on the heels of the current standoff with the U.S. As of Monday afternoon, the lira sat at ₺6.1544 to the U.S. dollar, having started the year at ₺3.7915.

According to Turkey, its request for consultations comes as it believes the U.S.’s doubling of the steel and aluminum tariffs is inconsistent with provisions of the WTO’s Agreement on Safeguards and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994.

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Turkey also argued that the U.S.’s application of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 — the statute by which the metals tariffs came to be — is also inconsistent with provisions of the GATT 1994.

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