Kevin Dempsey, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has slammed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for ruling that former President Donald Trump's steel and aluminium tariffs were in breach of global rules.

"A WTO dispute panel has once again gone beyond its mandate. Each member of the WTO has the right to determine what action it considers necessary to protect its own national security and today's panel ruling disregards this central feature of the WTO system," Dempsey said.

“The tariffs and quotas on steel were instituted by the president following a determination by the Secretary of Commerce that high levels of steel imports and continuing global excess capacity in steel threatened to impair US national security as defined in section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The WTO has no authority to second guess the US government on matters of our national security. This decision highlights once again why significant and systemic reform of the WTO dispute settlement system is essential to ensure that all WTO members’ rights are fully protected.

“The Section 232 programme on steel has worked to reduce the repeated surges in imports that threatened the health of the American steel industry. It also has incentivized new capital spending by US steelmakers, with investments of more than $22 billion in new, expanded or restarted production since March 2018. Unfortunately, the global steel overcapacity crisis continues to plague steelmakers worldwide, with excess capacity estimated to exceed 562Mt (metric tons) in 2022, more than six times total steel production in the United States. And many countries continue to increase their steel capacity. For example, cross-border investments into Southeast Asia, including many incentivized through China’s Belt and Road Initiative, will add over 90Mt (metric tons) of new, export-oriented steelmaking capacity in that region alone over the next few years. Given these facts, we believe the Section 232 measures on steel remain critically important for US national security. AISI strongly urges the Biden administration to maintain the Section 232 programme in steel and disregard this erroneous decision.”