US solar tariffs irk China; WTO action sought

Darnell Taylor
August 17, 2018

The 30 percent tariffs announced in January improperly help US producers in violation of WTO rules, the Commerce Ministry said. At the same time, the European Union lodged its own WTO complaint in June against China's technology policies, which it said violated Beijing's free trade commitments.

The duties also apply to imports of solar cells and modules from Europe, Canada, Mexico and South Korea.

This month's meeting would be the first between senior US and Chinese officials since June 3 talks in Beijing between Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Vice Premier Liu He ended with no settlement. "I think China chose to bring it up in order to keep up the rhythm of the trade dispute", she said.

The statement urges the USA to take concrete actions in line with the WTO rules and drop the "wrong practices" so that normal trade can be restored. This led to complaints that it undermined the World Trade Organization.

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China has tried to portray itself as a defender of the WTO-based trading system. China filed a complaint with the WTO to help determine the legality of the USA policies, saying they not only harm China's rights but also undermine the WTO's authority, according to Reuters.

Beijing said the USA measures are suspected of violating trade rules and that it would turn to the WTO's dispute resolution mechanism to protect its interests. If it fails, the case will go to a panel of experts to decide whether the trade controls are illegal. There is division and confusion over how China should respond to Trump, with some arguing that Beijing should strike back at American interests but others saying they didn't know what could be done. On the same day, Turkey's imposition of tariffs on 266.5 million dollars of US goods took effect.

On Aug. 1, Trump called for raising the proposed tariff on 200 billion dollars of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent, adding the implementation is pending a public comment process ending on September 5.

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