Safeguard Measures in World Trade

Safeguard Measures in World Trade

The Legal Analysis, Third Edition

Yong-Shik Lee

Safeguard Measures in World Trade tackles the controversial issue of restrictions on imports. Professor Yong-Shik Lee skillfully argues that Safeguards interfere substantially with the normal stream of trade, and their improper application undermines the objectives of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Chapter 14: Lessons to remember: US Steel Safeguard case

Yong-Shik Lee

Subjects: law - academic, international economic law, trade law


Safeguard measures have been subject to a wide range of views: from one considering them the most protectionist device of all, to one advocating them as an inevitable safety arrangement to maintain and further free trade. Perhaps many also understand both of these aspects about safeguards. As discussed at the beginning of this book, there are controversies about safeguard measures from the economic and political perspectives. At any rate, it is clear that the abuse of safeguard measures would lead to the destabilization of the world trading system and cause serious disruption to trade. The widely publicized steel safeguards, which were adopted by the United States a decade ago, illustrate this danger. On March 20, 2002, despite widespread international opposition, the United States finally applied controversial safeguard measures, comprising increased tariffs up to 30 percent and a tariff-quota, to its imports of a wide range of steel products amounting to 1,310 million tons per year. These measures have been remembered as among the most controversial and the most significant trade measures in recent history. Until then, a typical safeguard measure had been applied to protect a relatively limited number of domestic products causing only limited impacts on world trade. The implication of those US measures was felt completely differently from the previous safeguards, as these US safeguards were applied for the protection of a major industry by the largest economy in the world, affecting a huge volume of trade.

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