Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Money | By Arnold Ball

US Challenges China, EU And Others At WTO Over Steel Tariffs

US Challenges China, EU And Others At WTO Over Steel Tariffs

The five new disputes mark the latest developments in the evolving trade skirmish that began in earnest after Washington imposed duties on the vast majority of its trading partners, specifically targeting imports of those metals with hefty tariffs.

Why is China going to the WTO?

Given the position of China and the USA as global economic superpowers, it is unsurprising that the U.S. accounts for the majority of the disputes that China is involved in.

The MOC spokesperson Gao Feng said the United States move violated the WTO principle about most-favored-nation treatment and binding tariff obligations, at a press conference.

Workers stand in line next to a container ship at a port in China.

The United States trades metals and industrial/manufacturing goods with all of the affected countries, leading to the conclusion that the retaliatory tariffs are not meant to "balance the scales", but rather to impose an impermissible punishment.

Since tit-for-tat tariffs went into effect in early July, China has faced a tough battle.

Why is the United States going to the WTO?

New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau President Craig Ogden said retaliatory Chinese tariffs on USA pecans and new tariffs from Mexico on US cheese products are likely to hurt producers in New Mexico.

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China on Tuesday refuted US accusations that it has violated WTO rules, saying it would continue to abide by them, and calling on the United States to respect and obey WTO rules.

It said "The US measures are inflicting serious damage to the rules of the global trade and undermining the legal rights and interests of the WTO members, including China". "When you threaten to impose tariffs that are WTO-illegal or you impose tariffs there are WTO-illegal, in diplomacy, no country will ... negotiate on that. When handling key issues, it keeps its word and takes responsibility", the spokesperson said. Notable among them is motorbike maker Harley-Davidson, which announced plans to shift some manufacturing overseas over the next 18 months to avoid the impact of the European Union retaliatory tariffs of up to $100 million annually it would otherwise face. An Airbus-Boeing dispute, for example, took more than a decade to produce a final ruling. Washington could refuse to implement such a ruling but would then face the possibility of sanctions. Since the entry into the WTO for 17 years, China's initial heart has remained unchanged and its words and deeds have been the same. At times, the disputes simply fizzle as participants lose the ambition to resolve them.

China may run out of US imports to hit with tariffs but can retaliate with other measures. The U.S. accounts for more than 30 percent of China's total consumption of the plant product.

Should the United States complaints, and the previously filed disputes from other trading partners on the Section 232 duties, all advance to the panel stage, it is unclear how differing panels will juggle these various complaints, given that they deal with different, but intrinsically related, aspects of the same trade situation.

"China's achievements in innovation have been made by the wisdom and hard work of the Chinese people", she stressed.

China could also seek to lower the exchange rate of its currency against the dollar.

In the US, South American and Southeast Asian shrimp and tilapia exporters are best positioned to sell more there as Chinese imports become costlier.

Jamey Keaten contributed from Geneva.

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