WTO sets up panel in Turkey-EU steel tariffs standoff

The World Trade Organization agreed Friday to establish a panel to help settle a row between Turkey and the EU over tariffs which the bloc has slapped on certain steel products.

The European Union first imposed the so-called safeguard measures on some steel imports from Turkey in January 2019, sparking allegations from Ankara that it was in violation of international trade rules.

The two sides failed to reach an agreement during consultations set up to resolve the dispute, and Turkey last month made an initial request that the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body create an expert panel to rule in the matter. 

The EU blocked the first request, but under WTO rules, a second panel request is, in practice, automatically accepted.

The WTO’s panels of independent trade and legal experts usually take several months to announce their decisions.

They can authorise retaliatory trade measures if they rule in the plaintiff’s favour.

Usually parties unhappy with a panel decision can appeal, but that process has been complicated since the WTO Appellate Body stopped functioning last December after years of relentless opposition from the United States, which has accused it of major overreach.