On 23 March, the US imposed additional tariffs on steel and aluminium imports of 25 percent and 10 percent respectively, alleging that imports to the United States pose a threat to US national security. Its justification for doing so was that the nature and scale of imports of these products pose a threat to US national security.

‘For a small and open economy as Norway’s it is crucial that the common rules for international trade are respected. When somebody acts contrary to these rules, both individual countries and the international economy are affected’, Ms Eriksen Søreide said.

Consultations between the parties are the first stage of the WTO dispute settlement process. If the consultations are not successful, Norway will consider requesting the establishment of a panel to address the matter, which is the next stage in the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. The panel’s ruling may then be appealed to the WTO Appellate Body. Norway has previously been a party to three dispute settlement cases that led to the establishment of a panel: the steel dispute with the US in 2002, the salmon dispute with the EU in 2006, and the seals dispute with the EU in 2011. So far, the EU, Canada, Mexico, China and India have also requested dispute settlement consultations with the US in response to the additional tariffs introduced in March.

It is important for Norway and the Norwegian business sector that there are favourable conditions for international trade in steel and aluminium. In 2017, Norwegian exports of steel and aluminium were valued at NOK 16 billion and NOK 33 billion respectively. Approximately 0.2 percent of Norwegian exports of steel and aluminium are exported to the US, and affected by the additional tariffs. The majority of Norwegian steel and aluminium are exported to the EU.

‘In the long run, we all benefit from a situation where right trumps might in international trade. Such a disregard for WTO rules weakens the credibility of the United States in international trade, and risks undermining the rules based multilateral trading system’, Ms Eriksen Søreide said.