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Russia Joins WTO Members in Opposing Trump Tariffs

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017 (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

Russia became the seventh World Trade Organization member to challenge President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs on Monday, filing a complaint to that effect with the WTO.

The Russian complaint cites “numerous violations of WTO rules by the United States in introducing this measure,” Russian Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin said, and the country also plans to impose equal retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, including possibly American-made cars.

The White House tariffs of 25 percent on imports of steel and 10 percent on imports of aluminum products took effect on June 1, stoking anger among U.S. trading partners, who do not buy Trump’s claim that the duties are in the interest of national security.

China, India, Canada, Mexico, Norway, and the European Union have all filed complaints against the U.S. duties. Russia’s decision to do the same comes as Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin plan to hold their first official summit meeting later this month.

Trump says he believes his administration’s tariffs, which took effect June 1, are in the interest of U.S. national security, and address unfair trade deals. The White House is reportedly even considering the imposition of additional tariffs on auto imports. But Russia says the administration’s tariffs run up against the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Agreement on Safeguards.

Among other nations, Canada, Mexico, China, and the E.U. have already slapped retaliatory tariffs on American products.

“President Trump has taken actions on trade in steel and aluminum to protect our national-security interests. These actions are wholly legitimate and fully justified, both as a matter of U.S. law and WTO rules. By contrast, the European Union has concocted a groundless legal theory to justify immediate tariffs on U.S. exports. Other WTO members, including China, have adopted a similar approach,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement last week.

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