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Steel, Commerce Ministries differ on challenging WTO panel ruling

India is yet to decide whether to challenge the World Trade Organization’s recent ruling against safeguard duties imposed by the country on imports of hot-rolled steel flat products as the Steel and Commerce Ministries have adopted opposing views on the issue.
“While the Steel Ministry is in favour of contesting the WTO ruling, the Commerce Ministry believes that there is no need for such a move as the safeguard duties that have been found violative of existing rules do not exist any more,” an official told BusinessLine.
India imposed safeguard duties — penal duties to protect vulnerable domestic industry against a surge in imports — on hot-rolled steel products in March 2016 fixed at 20 per cent which were tapered off and totally removed in March 2018.
On Tuesday, a WTO dispute settlement panel, set up at the request of Japan, gave its ruling and mostly upheld Tokyo’s contention that the safeguard duties imposed by India did not adhere to the WTO norms. The WTO verdict, however, was not all against India. There were several claims made by Japan which were struck down as well. “The Steel Ministry believes that the decisions going against India could be challenged at the WTO with the country submitting more evidence to establish its case. It feels that getting the verdict changed could help India score a larger point,” the official said.
But the Commerce Ministry is of the opinion that there is no point in doing so as the safeguard duties had already been rolled back in March and the challenge would lead to a waste of effort and resources, the official added.
New Delhi does not have to decide immediately on the issue. Members have 30 days to appeal against a panel decision once it is made public.