This comes almost a month after India blocked the first request by the US to set up a panel to decide on New Delhi’s decision to impose additional duties on products including apples, walnuts, chickpeas, lentils, boric acid and diagnostic reagents.
The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body agreed to the second request by the US for establishment of the panel, a Geneva-based official said.
The decision of the panel will have an important bearing on duties levied by other countries on US goods following protectionist measures by the Trump administration.
“This development means there will be a decision by the WTO and it could be a moral victory if we win because it would have been resolved at the multilateral level,” said a New Delhi-based expert on WTO issues.
The US, in its request, claimed the additional duties with an annual value of trade worth $1.1 billion are inconsistent with the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade by unfairly discriminating against US imports vis-à-vis those from other members.
India argued that the duties or the “rebalancing measures are in direct response to the unwarranted restrictions imposed by the US” on its goods. The EU and China backed India, supporting the right of members to impose their own rebalancing measures against the US’ unilateral actions.
China, the EU, Japan, Russia and Turkey are the other countries that responded to the US’ move to impose a global additional tariff of 25% and 10% on import of steel and aluminium products, respectively, in March last year.
India had on September 30 blocked a US request to set up a panel to settle its disagreement over the issue of retaliatory tariffs. India had levied the higher duties on US goods on June 15, after deferring them for almost a year since it first announced them.
The US then dragged India to the WTO for according “less favourable treatment” to its products in July.
India said that it “considers that the US Section 232 measures on steel and aluminium imports are nothing but a disguised safeguard intended to protect the US’s domestic industry in the garb of national security.”