WTO rules US tariffs on Chinese imports broke global trade rules

The World Trade Organization has ruled that US tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, starting in 2018, violated global trade rules — in a rebuke of Donald Trump’s multiyear commercial confrontation with Beijing.

The decision by a panel of judges from the WTO’s dispute settlement body, which was revealed on Tuesday, found that the US had flouted its commitments to the Geneva-based trade body on several counts when it imposed levies on $360bn of Chinese imports.

The WTO panel ruled that US tariffs were discriminatory and excessive, and Washington did not justify an exemption that would have allowed them. It also rejected the US claim that it was pursuing a settlement with China outside the WTO, saying instead the negotiations between Washington and Beijing were parallel to the legal proceedings.

The US has claimed that the tariffs imposed on Chinese imports over the course of the Trump administration were justified under US law because China had engaged in unfair trade practices by forcing American companies to hand over sensitive technology and stealing their intellectual property.

The ruling is likely to increase the Trump administration’s animosity towards the WTO, which it has frequently threatened to pull out of unless it introduces sweeping reforms to its operations….

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