WTO says US tariffs on Chinese goods violated trade rules

The United States has imposed tariffs worth US$400 billion, starting in March 2018, on Chinese goods exported Stateside

The World Trade Organization (WTO) says additional tariffs the United States imposed on Chinese goods in 2018 violated international rules on trading.

A three-person panel of WTO trade experts said the US broke global regulations in 2018 when it slapped more than US$200 billion in levies on Chinese goods.

Since March 2018, the US has imposed tariffs totalling US$400 billion on Chinese exports.

“Unprecedented” tensions

“The United States has not met its burden of demonstrating that the measures are provisionally justified,” the panel said in a report.

The panel offered an additional observation, saying the group was “very much aware of the wider context in which the WTO system currently operates, which is one reflecting a range of unprecedented global trade tensions”.

“The multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core is the cornerstone of international trade,” a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce told reporters during a news conference.

Respect for WTO rules

“China has always firmly supported and maintained this cornerstone and respected WTO rules and rulings,” the spokesperson said, adding that Beijing “hopes that the United States will fully respect the rulings of the expert panel”.

The Trump administration previously claimed that the tariffs were necessary to curb unfair trading practices and intellectual property theft by China.

Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative, reiterated those claims on Tuesday immediately following the WTO’s decision.

“This panel report confirms what the Trump administration has been saying for four years: the WTO is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices,” Lighthizer said in a statement.

He added: “The United States must be allowed to defend itself against unfair trade practices, and the Trump administration will not let China use the WTO to take advantage of American workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers.”

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