Russia may challenge any move by the United States to impose stiff new tariffs on imports of Russian steel and aluminum in a complaint before the World Trade Organization (WTO), Russian state-run news agency TASS has reported.
TASS quoted a Russian Industry and Trade Ministry spokesman as saying on February 19 that it would be difficult for Russia's steel and aluminum industries to absorb the new tariffs of 53 percent and 23.6 percent, respectively, that were recommended last week by the U.S. Commerce Department, citing U.S. national security reasons.
The spokesman told TASS that Russia sent 35 percent and 27 percent, respectively, of its cast iron and ferroalloy exports to the United States, so it would be "difficult" for Russian companies to find new markets for such exports if the U.S. tariffs were imposed.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on February 16 that he recommended the new tariffs on steel and aluminum produced by Russia as well as China and other countries, but it is up to U.S. President Donald Trump to make a final decision on imposing such trade penalties.
Some experts have warned that such measures could spark a trade war. China, which is the largest U.S. trading partner, has also vowed to retaliate against any new tariffs.
Ross said he recommended the tariffs because a department investigation last year determined that cheap imports from Russia, China, and other countries have made U.S. domestic production of steel "unviable," and thus the imports endanger U.S. national security.
Trump has until April 11 to announce his decision on the steel tariffs, and until April 20 to decide on the aluminum tariffs.
If Trump decides to go ahead with the new tariffs, the U.S. action can be challenged before the WTO, the Russian trade spokesman told TASS.