Since the inception of the WTO, safeguard measures have regularly been the subject of dispute settlement proceedings. The latest in this chain of disputes concerns the definitive safeguard measures imposed by the United States on a wide range of steel products in 2002.
The safeguards investigation of steel imports was initiated under the US law by the US International Trade Commission (USITC) at the request of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in June, 2001. The request covered four broad categories of steel products, which were divided into 33 categories by the USITC for purposes of data collection. Ultimately, the USITC defined 27 separate “industries” producing steel products within the scope of the investigation. For each of these industries, the USITC proceeded to determine whether imports had increased, and if so, whether increased imports were a substantial cause of serious injury or threat of injury. This analysis resulted in negative determinations for 15 industries, affirmative determinations for eight industries, and “divided” determinations (a 3–3 vote) for four industries.