The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found that the U.S. breached global trading rules by imposing multibillion-dollar tariffs on China, a Tuesday (September 15) ruling that has sparked anger from Washington.
Two years ago President Donald Trump slapped more than $200 billion dollars worth of tariffs on Chinese goods during his trade war with Beijing.
Trump has defended the move, saying it was justified as China was stealing intellectual property and forcing U.S companies to transfer technology for access to China’s markets.
But the WTO sees it differently.
A three person panel says those tariffs broke rules on trade because they applied only to China and were above maximum rates agreed to by the United States.
The panel also says Washington then didn’t adequately explain why its measures were a justified exception.
The U.S immediately hit back, with the country’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer stating quote: “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.”
Trump himself also weighed in: “Well, then we’ll have to do something about the WTO because they’ve let China get away with murder.”
Meanwhile, China’s Commerce Ministry said Beijing supported and respected WTO rules and rulings, and hoped Washington would do the same.
As for action on the ground, the WTO finding will have little immediate effect on the U.S. tariffs and is just the start of a legal process that could take years to play out.
The United States is likely to appeal Tuesday’s ruling.