WTO rules against US over Trump's tariffs on China

The World Trade Organization's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The World Trade Organization's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. © AFP

The World Trade Organization on Tuesday upheld a complaint by China over additional duties slapped by the Trump administration on some $250 billion (€211bn) worth of Chinese goods.


A panel of experts set up by WTO's Dispute Settlement Body ruled the tariffs "inconsistent" with global trade rules, and recommended that the United States "bring its measures into conformity with its obligations".

The US response to Tuesday's ruling was defiant, blasting the organisation as "completely inadequate" in holding Beijing accountable.

"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," US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

China's commerce ministry, for its part, said on Tuesday that it hoped the US would respect the WTO's rulings and take practical actions to maintain the multilateral trading system.

Trade war

The WTO panel was created in January last year to review US President Donald Trump's decision to hit China with tariffs on a quarter of a trillion dollars' worth of goods.

The tariffs imposed in 2018 marked the beginning of the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

China's representative told the organisation at the time that the tariffs imposed were "a blatant breach of the United States' obligations under the WTO agreements and is posing a systemic challenge to the multilateral trading system".

Washington has meanwhile slammed China's complaint as "entirely hypocritical", pointing to the "discriminatory duties on over $100 billion in US exports" imposed in parallel by China.

Tuesday's announcement marks one of the first in a series of anticipated panel rulings over complaints filed by a long line of countries over Trump's decision to slap them with steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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