The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found that tariffs on steel and aluminium imports that were imposed by the US under Trump violate global trade rules. The WTO said the US should bring its trade policy into compliance. If the country does not abide by the decision, the countries who brought the complaints are entitled, under WTO rules, to impose retaliatory tariffs on the US.
Trump had claimed national security concerns when he announced the new border taxes in 2018, sparking a wave of trade fights around the world. The WTO rebuffed that argument, saying the duties did not come "at a time of war or other emergency".
Biden's administration says it will continue Trump's tariffs. So much for following a rules-based order.
The US "strongly rejects" the ruling and has no intention of removing the measures, assistant US trade representative Adam Hodge said.
"The Biden administration is committed to preserving US national security by ensuring the long-term viability of our steel and aluminium industries," he said, adding that the reports "only reinforce the need to fundamentally reform the WTO dispute settlement system".
"The United States has held the clear and unequivocal position, for over 70 years, that issues of national security cannot be reviewed in WTO dispute settlement and the WTO has no authority to second guess the ability of a WTO member to respond to a wide range of threats to its security," he said.
The US could appeal but that would leave the dispute in limbo, because the US has for years blocked appointments to the WTO's appellate body, which hears appeals, leaving it unable to function.
Norway's ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that it had brought the case to try "to prevent protectionism... so that the rules-based, multilateral trading system is not undermined".
China said that it hoped the US would respect the ruling and correct its policies "as soon as possible".