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WTO says US tariffs on Chinese goods violate international trade rules

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US President Donald Trump and Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, the country’s top trade negotiator, hold a press conference before signing a trade deal with the US and China during a ceremony at the White House Eastern House in Washington. DC on January 15, 2020

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

NEW YORK The World Trade Organization ruled Tuesday that additional tariffs imposed in 2018 by the United States on Chinese goods violated international trade rules, a blow to the Trump administration’s trade war against the world’s second-largest economy.

A three-person panel of WTO trade experts said Washington broke global rules in 2018 when it hit more than $ 200 billion in revenue for a portion of Chinese goods. As of March 2018, the US has set tariffs on $ 400 billion in Chinese exports.

“The United States has not fulfilled its burden to demonstrate that the measures are provisionally justified,” the panel said in a report. The panel provided an additional observation, saying the group was “very aware of the broader context in which the WTO system currently operates, which is one that reflects a range of unprecedented global trade tensions”.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

“The WTO multilateral trade system is essentially the foundation of international trade,” a Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman told reporters at a news conference.

“China has always strongly supported and maintained this cornerstone and has complied with WTO rules and decisions,” the spokesman said, adding that Beijing “hopes that the United States will fully respect the decisions of the panel of experts and the trade system.” rule-based multilateralism, take practical action to meet China and other WTO members, jointly maintain the multilateral trading system and promote the sustainable and healthy development of the world economy “.

The Trump administration has previously claimed that tariffs on China were necessary to curb Beijing’s unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft. The U.S. trade representative reiterated those claims Tuesday in the wake of the WTO ruling.

“This panel report confirms what the Trump administration has been saying for four years: the WTO is completely inappropriate to stop China’s harmful technology practices,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement. “The United States must be allowed to protect itself from unfair trade practices, and the Trump administration will not allow China to use the WTO to take advantage of American workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers.”

All told, Washington has 60 days to appeal the decision under WTO rules. The move could prompt Beijing to ask the organization to adjudicate, which could last for several years.

Nearly a year ago, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Donald Trump argued that the Geneva-based WTO needs “drastic change” to counter fraud by China and other nations.

“For years these abuses were tolerated, ignored or even encouraged,” Trump said in September 2019. He also said the United States would not accept a “bad deal” in trade talks with China and that he had not need an agreement before the 2020 Elections

“Hopefully we can reach an agreement that will be beneficial to both countries. But as I have made very clear, I will not accept a bad deal for the American people,” Trump said, making no reaction. by the observing Chinese delegation.

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