Beijing takes dispute with US over tariffs to WTO

China representative to the world trade body request consultations

A worker oversees production at a furnace at the steel plant of Dalian Special Steel Co in Dalian, Liaoning province in China
A worker oversees production at a furnace at the steel plant of Dalian Special Steel Co in Dalian, Liaoning province in China
Image: Reuters

Beijing has requested dispute consultations with the United States at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over US tariffs slapped on imports of Chinese steel and aluminium products, according to a WTO document published yesterday.

China’s representative to the world trade body has requested consultations with Washington over its decision to impose additional ad valorem rate of duty on imports of certain steel and aluminium products, according to the document, which stated that the complaint was filed on April 5.

US President Donald Trump decided in March to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, primarily to target China.

China claims the duties of 25% and 10% on imports of its steel and aluminium products violate global trade rules.

The Chinese request for consultations, which marks the first step in a full-blown legal challenge at the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, is part of an escalating trade confrontation between Washington and Beijing.

Early last week, Washington also published a list of $50-billion (R603-billion) in Chinese goods to be hit by tariffs over what Washington says is widespread theft of intellectual property and technology.

China quickly launched a challenge against those proposed tariffs, also requesting that the WTO organise consultations.

Beijing also retaliated by unveiling planned levies on $50-billion worth of major US exports including soybeans, cars and small aircraft.

But Trump hit back again on Thursday, instructing trade officials to consider tariffs on an additional $100-billion (R1.2-billion) in Chinese imports.

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