GENEVA: A World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel on Wednesday (Aug 16) found that China had acted inconsistently with its WTO obligations by imposing additional duties on certain US imports in response to US tariffs on steel and aluminium.
The office of the US Trade Representative said it was pleased with the WTO decision, adding that China had “illegally retaliated with sham ‘safeguard’ tariffs”.
China’s Commerce Ministry said it had noted the WTO panel decision and demanded that the United States immediately lift tariffs imposed on steel and aluminium imports.
The US imposed a 25 per cent duty on steel imports and a 10 per cent duty on aluminium imports in March 2018 based on the Donald Trump administration’s “Section 232” national security investigation into steel and aluminium imports.
The panel recommended that China bring its “WTO-inconsistent measures into conformity”.
Beijing could appeal the ruling, which would send it into a legal void because Washington has blocked appointments to the WTO Appellate Body, rendering it incapable of giving a judgment.
The WTO ruled last year that the US move had also violated international trade rules, with Washington also appealing the decision.
In response to the US duties, China announced that additional duties of between 15 per cent and 25 per cent would apply to certain imports originating in the United States, a measure challenged by Washington.
The United States agreed to remove tariffs on EU imports in 2021 but President Joe Biden’s administration has otherwise kept in place the metals tariffs that were one of the centrepieces of Trump’s America First strategy.