Norway, EU ask WTO to set up panel on US steel, aluminium tariffs

OSLO, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Norway, the European Union and several other countries asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday to set up a dispute resolution panel to address U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The United States imposed a 25 percent duty on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminium imports, effective from March 23 in what U.S. President Donald Trump said was a move to protect U.S. metal makers.

"We believe that additional U.S. duty on steel and aluminium is contrary to WTO rules," Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement."We believe that additional U.S. duty on steel and aluminium is contrary to WTO rules."

"Therefore, together with the EU and several others, we asked today the WTO to establish a dispute resolution panel on the U.S. additional duty," she said.

Norway said initial consultations with the United States had not led to an agreeable solution, and therefore the Nordic country had joined others in asking the WTO to set up the panel to obtain an independent assessment of the matter.

Norwegian exports of steel and aluminium in the categories affected by additional duties were worth close to 36 billion Norwegian crowns ($4.36 billion) in 2017, according to the Foreign Ministry.

"Although our exports to the United States of steel and aluminium are modest, this case is fundamentally important," Soereide said. "An open economy such as Norway is dependent on the rule-based multilateral system functioning."

The European Union is by far the largest market for Norwegian steel and aluminium.

In Brussels, meanwhile, the EU, Norway and Switzerland sought Asian support for free trade, the Iran nuclear deal and fighting global warming at a regional summit that included China, Japan and Russia as a counterbalance to a more protectionist United States.

($1 = 8.2556 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Mark Heinrich)