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September 3, 2019

China lodges WTO trade complaint against US


September 3, 2019

Beijing: China said Monday it had lodged a complaint against the United States with the World Trade Organization (WTO), one day after new tariffs imposed by Washington on billions of dollars of Chinese goods came into force.

The world´s two biggest economies have been embroiled in a bruising year-long trade war which escalated further on Sunday when both sides moved ahead with fresh tit-for-tat levy hikes.

The United States began imposing 15 percent tariffs on a variety of Chinese goods on Sunday and China began imposing new duties on U.S. crude oil, the latest escalation in their trade war.

China did not release details of its legal case but said the U.S. tariffs affected $300 billion of Chinese exports. "These American tariffs seriously violate the consensus reached by the leaders of our two countries in Osaka," Beijing´s commerce ministry said, referring to trade discussions in the Japanese city in June.

"The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed to that. In accordance with relevant WTO rules, China will firmly safeguard its legitimate rights and interests," the ministry added in a statement published on its website. The complaint has been lodged with the WTO body for dispute settlement, the ministry said.

The lawsuit is the third Beijing has brought to challenge US President Donald Trump’s China-specific tariffs at the WTO, the international organization that limits the tariffs each country is allowed to charge.

U.S. officials say that they are penalising China for theft of intellectual property that is not covered by WTO rules, although many trade experts say that any tariff hike above the allowed maximum must be justified at the WTO.

Many experts also decry China’s decision to fight fire with fire, by imposing tariffs on US goods imported into China, also without the WTO’s approval. Washington´s latest levies on imports from China took effect on Sunday as it stepped up a high-pressure campaign aimed at compelling Beijing to sign a new trade deal.

Beijing has said it will retaliate by targeting $75 billion in US goods, beginning in part on September 1. The trade dispute has rattled markets and hit growth across the globe, and trade negotiations between the two countries have been at an impasse for months.

US President Donald Trump and China´s leader Xi Jinping had agreed to "fully engage" on trade when they met in Osaka during the G20 summit in Japan. But at the recent G7 meeting in France, Trump spoke of new communications between US and Chinese negotiators -- giving financial markets a brief boost -- while China´s foreign ministry said it was unaware of such contacts.

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