Under WTO rules there is a dispute settlement process which WTO member states are expected to go through to settle trade disputes.

Trump has sidestepped this process by declaring the steel and aluminum tariffs "Safeguard tariffs", which are allowed under WTO laws, claiming that the tariffs are legal under US law based on a 1962 law that allows safeguard tariffs to be enacted for the cause of national security.

I see that many countries have opened disputes with the WTO in response to this. However, several countries have announced retaliatory measures and it is not clear whether these announced counter-tariffs are going to go through the dispute settlement process with the WTO, and what the legal status of these counter-tariffs are in the eyes of the WTO if they are not going through the WTO process.

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    This seems rather broad. Not only can different countries take different approaches, but a country could conceivably pursue both approaches but on different products. This would be far more answerable if you narrowed down to one country (e.g. Canada or Mexico) or trade union (e.g. the EU). And possibly down to just one product.
    – Brythan
    Jul 6, 2018 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


Yes, the US has started five cases DS557 to DS561 for retaliatory tariffs imposed by Canada, China, the EU, Mexico, and Turkey All are at panel phase.

The request for consultations for all of these was passed to the WTO on July 16, 2018. For the first four cases, the panel was composed on 25 January 2019; for the last one on 28 February 2019.

I don't know this for sure from what the WTO has published so far about these 5 cases, but given the precedent the cases might be joined at some point, possibly during the appeal if that happens.

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