U.S. tariffs on China are illegal, says world trade body
A World Trade Organization panel ruled Tuesday that Trump administration tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods are illegal, vindicating Beijing even if the United States has all but incapacitated the WTO’s ability to hand down a final, binding verdict.
The decision marks the first time that the Genevabased trade body has ruled against a series of highprofile tariffs that President Donald Trump’s government has imposed on a number of countries, including allies. Trump has repeatedly claimed that the WTO treats the U.S. unfairly.
The ruling, in theory, would allow China to impose retaliatory tariffs on billions’ worth of U.S. goods. But it is unlikely to have much practical impact, at least in the shortterm, because the U.S. can appeal the decision and the WTO’s appeals court is currently no longer functioning — largely because of Washington’s refusal to accept new members for it.
In its decision, the WTO’s dispute-settlement body ruled against the U.S. government’s argument that China has wrongly engaged in practices harmful to U.S. interests on issues including intellectualproperty theft and technology transfer – and it quickly drew criticism of U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer.
“This panel report confirms what the Trump administration has been saying for four years: The WTO is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices,” Lighthizer said in a statement. He said the United States had presented “extensive evidence” of China’s intellectual-property theft and the WTO has offered no fixes for it.
“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,” he added.