GENEVA (Reuters) -A World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel on Wednesday found that China had acted inconsistently with its WTO obligations by imposing additional duties on certain U.S. imports in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium.
The office of the U.S. 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 U.S. imposed a 25% duty on steel imports and a 10% 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 U.S. move had also violated international trade rules, with Washington also appealing the decision.
In response to the U.S. duties, China announced that additional duties of between 15% and 25% 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.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Geneva, Susan Heavey in Washington and Ella Cao in Beijing, Editing by Rachel More, Devika Syamnath and Sharon Singleton)