July 14, 2014 / 4:10 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-WTO backs key Indian claims in case against U.S. steel duties

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(Adds details, background)

GENEVA, July 14 (Reuters) - The World Trade Organization on Monday backed some key claims by India against countervailing duties imposed by the United States on certain steel products, but rejected others.

The WTO panel, ruling on the April 2012 case, said the United States had acted wrongly in claiming some Indian subsidy programmes had given steelmaker Tata an unfair advantage.

It called on Washington to bring its measures into conformity with WTO rules, specifically the WTO agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures.

States impose countervailing duties, which are punitively high import tariffs, when they suspect another country of gaining an unfair trade advantage through subsidies.

The case involved a countervailing duty imposed by Washington because a portion of the iron ore used to produce steel pipe came from India's top iron ore miner NMDC, a state-run firm that supplies steelmakers such as Tata and Essar.

An unnamed Indian official told Reuters when the case was launched in 2012 that the United States argued NMDC was selling the iron ore "for a song" and therefore implicitly subsidising a private-sector enterprise.

U.S. companies Allied Tube and Conduit, JMC Steel Group, Wheatland Tube and United States Steel Corp had petitioned the government in 2011 for import relief. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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