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Monday, June 10, 2024 | Back issues
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Defending Tariffs on China, US Brings Appeals Before Hamstrung Trade Body

Frustrating China’s efforts to get compensation over U.S. tariffs, the United States filed an appeal Monday before the World Trade Organization, even as the Trump administration has left that body unable to function.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Frustrating China’s efforts to get compensation over U.S. tariffs, the United States filed an appeal Monday before the World Trade Organization, even as the Trump administration has left that body unable to function.

The WTO ruled last month that the tariffs targeting more than $200 billion in goods were illegal, finding no link between the products that the Trump administration had targeted and the unfair practices it described.

Two years earlier, the U.S. had pointed to what it called China’s “state-sanctioned theft” and “misappropriation” of U.S. technology, intellectual property and commercial secrets in levying the tariffs under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

Representatives for the U.S. announced their appeal Monday meanwhile at a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Body, which released the September decision, a WTO official said.

While such appeals would typically be decided in three months, the WTO’s seven-judge appellate body has been nonfunctioning since December 2019 — unable to meet quorum rules because of the Trump administration has blocked appointments to the body’s seven-member appeals board.

Just this morning, the United States opposed new appointments again. Though the 25-year-old WTO is considered in large part a U.S. creation, years of rulings against U.S. interests strained that relationship.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer criticized the WTO ruling against American tariffs in September, saying the group was “completely inadequate” to prevent “China’s harmful technology practices. Lighthizer had said the panel did not dispute the evidence of intellectual property theft by China and that the WTO provided no remedy for trade misconduct.

“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,” Lighthizer had said in a statement

The Office of the United States Trade Representative did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

There are 16 appeals still pending before the WTO’s appellate body. Back in June, the EU, Russia and the United Kingdom were among dozens of signatories to a proposal that called filling the WTO’s vacancies a matter of urgency.

While the September ruling against the U.S. should have allowed China to impose retaliatory tariffs, America’s perfunctory appeal makes such a conclusion impossible.

Chinese officials on Monday accused the U.S. of taking advantage of the “current paralysis” of the WTO appeals court, according to reporting from The South China Morning Post.

While the U.S. and China reached a January trade deal to settle the escalating tensions, most experts say it is unlikely that China will fulfill its obligation to purchase an additional $200 billion in U.S.-made goods in the next two years.

Categories / Economy, Financial, International

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