Norway, like Canada, the EU, India, China, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey, has already held dispute settlement consultations with the US in Geneva. This is the first stage of a WTO dispute settlement process. These consultations did not resolve the issue. Norway and several other WTO members, including the EU, have therefore requested the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel to make an independent assessment of the matter. The panel proceedings are a form of arbitration, and will probably take a little over a year. The panel’s findings may then be appealed to the Appellate Body of the WTO.
On 23 March, the US imposed additional tariffs on certain steel and aluminium imports of 25% and 10% respectively, in order to protect its own industry. These measures also affect Norwegian exports to the US. It is important for Norway and the Norwegian business sector that there are favourable conditions for international trade in steel and aluminium. In 2017, total Norwegian exports of steel and aluminium product categories to which the additional tariffs apply were worth almost NOK 36 billion. The value of exports to the US was about NOK 90 million. The EU is the largest market for Norwegian steel and aluminium.
‘Although Norwegian exports of steel and aluminium to the US are modest, this case is important as a matter of principle. For an open economy like Norway’s, it is vital that the rules-based multilateral trading system functions properly. The Norwegian Government will stand by Norwegian industries that meet illegal trade restrictions and will continue to defend the rules-based trading system,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.