US sues Russia at WTO: Didn’t expect retaliatory sanctions


Washington has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against tariffs imposed by Moscow on some US imports, the trade body confirmed on Wednesday.

According to Russia’s economy ministry, Washington has misinterpreted the measures taken by Moscow, explaining that Russia complies with the WTO regulations.

“The United States misinterprets the nature of the measures taken by the Russian side. We are acting within the framework of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, which allows compensating for damage from special protective measures taken by another country,” the ministry said.

In July, Russia raised tariffs from 25 to 40 percent on a number of US products in response to Washington’s levies on Russian steel and aluminum. Moscow appealed to the WTO to resolve the metal tariffs dispute.

Russia’s retaliatory measures, targeting $87.6 million worth of US goods, covers just a minimal part of Russia’s estimated losses of $450 million due to US metal tariffs. They include certain types of road construction machinery, oil and gas equipment, metalworking and rock drilling tools as well as optical fiber.

Moscow will reportedly impose further tariffs on $450 million worth of US imports if the WTO rules the US tariffs are illegal. Under the current rules, the $87.6 million in tariffs is the maximum amount a country can levy without the WTO decision.

Earlier this year, the White House slapped a number of trading partners with tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum. They include Russia, China, India, the European Union, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey and South Korea. Washington explained the move was due to national security concerns. However, several countries affected by the levies have launched WTO complaints, accusing the US of protectionism.

Apart from the trade dispute, Moscow and Washington are involved in the worst diplomatic crisis since the Cold War. Over recent years, the US has imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over a number of accusations. They include involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, reunification with Crimea, alleged US election meddling, a purported violation of sanctions against North Korea and alleged nefarious activity in cyberspace.