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US appeals against China’s WTO trade war tariff victory

The United States has chosen to appeal China’s WTO tariff victory ‘into the void’.

The United States of America has lodged an appeal against a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that some of President Donald Trump’s trade war tariffs on China were unlawful, going by a Geneva trade official.

The move was made public by the chair of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body at the start of a meeting in Geneva on Monday, effectively derailing any action China might have taken against the dispute award, made in September.

The WTO’s appellate body – its final appeal court – is essentially defunct, after the US refused to confirm any new judges to protest a perceived overreach in the court’s judgments, and the case will now be “appealed into the void”, since there is no appeal court to hear it.

Responding statement, China said the US was “taking advantage of the current paralysis” of the appeals function at the WTO, describing the appeal as “an abuse of WTO procedural rules”, adding that “it was high time for all WTO members to show responsibility”.

A disputes court panel ruled in China’s favour in September over unilateral US tariffs imposed on US$234 billion worth of goods in 2018 and 2019, after the US couldn't convince the panel that the tariffs were legitimate under a “public morals” defence.

The US has long had grievances with China’s positions at the WTO, notably its status as a developing nation. Meanwhile, the WTO has vowed to bring US and China to the negotiating table.

With the iminent appointment of a new WTO director general, the pressure is on both remaining candidates – Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
and South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee – to convince Washington that they are able to instil real reform, but also assuage Beijing’s fears that reform will not be too sweeping.

At the same meeting on Monday however, WTO members approved the European Union’s request to impose retaliatory tariffs against the US for failing to comply with a WTO ruling on government subsidies for Boeing. An arbitrator determined in September that the maximum retaliation could be just shy of US$4 billion.

The USA In Focus

Population: 365.9 million (Compared to China's 1.4 billion )

GDP: $23.118 Trillion (Compared to China's $14.3 trillion)

GDP Per Capita: $63,777 (Compared to China's $10,410)