WTO Members Review Safeguard Actions, Discuss Increased Use
At the biannual meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards on 26 April, WTO members reviewed a large number of safeguard actions taken by fellow members. Several members also reiterated their concern with the increased use, in general, of this trade-defence tool in recent years.
Twenty-six notifications of safeguards (SG) actions received since the committee's October 2020 meeting were addressed and a number of general issues were raised at the 26 April meeting, which was chaired by Mr Mustafa Tuzcu (Turkey). Japan, Korea, China, Australia and Canada voiced general concern about the frequency of resort to safeguards. Other general issues raised concerned the impact of safeguards on global trade and supply chains, and the importance of adhering to WTO disciplines on the use of safeguards given that these measures are intended to address emergency situations.
Under the WTO rules, a member may restrict imports of a product temporarily (take “safeguard” actions) through higher tariffs or other measures if it determines through an investigation that increased imports of a product are causing or threatening to cause serious injury to its domestic industry. Unlike anti-dumping duties, safeguard measures cover imports from all sources, although imports from developing country members with a small share of imports are exempted through special and differential treatment provisions.
The committee reviewed notifications of new or amended SG legislation or regulations from Brazil, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the United States, and continued its review of the legislative notifications of Bolivia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
Notifications of safeguard actions were reviewed by the committee from the following members: Costa Rica; Egypt; the European Union; the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); India; Indonesia; Madagascar; Malaysia; Morocco; Peru; the Philippines; South Africa; Turkey; Ukraine; and the United States.
Eight members took the floor in respect of the European Union's review of its safeguard measure on certain steel products.
Six members took the floor in respect of the safeguard investigation initiated by the Gulf Cooperation Council on certain steel products.
Five members took the floor in respect of the Philippines' imposition of a provisional safeguard measure on imports of certain motor vehicles.
Other investigation and/or measures on which views were expressed included Indonesia's investigation on articles of apparel and clothing accessories, South Africa's investigation on certain iron and steel products, Turkey's investigation on wallpapers and wall coverings, and Ukraine's investigation on fresh cut roses.
Brazil and Switzerland requested a separate agenda item in respect of the United Kingdom's safeguard measure on certain steel products. Five other members also took the floor on this item.
The committee agreed to a proposal by the chair to merge two notification documents, to ease the notification process for members and enhance transparency.