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  • The Chinese and US flags are seen among others outside of the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) factory in Shanghai, China. September 07, 2020.

    The Chinese and US flags are seen among others outside of the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) factory in Shanghai, China. September 07, 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA/Alex Plavevski

Published 15 September 2020
Opinion

The international organization regulating world commerce found Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump breached global trade rules by instating multi-billion dollar tariffs in his trade war against China.  

Washington rejected the report, alleging the more than $200 billion in tariffs imposed on Chinese products more than two years ago were justified as China was requiring companies to transfer technology and intellectual property.

"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," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.  

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The WTO's three-person panel stated that U.S. tariffs broke agreed-upon rules as they applied only to China and were above the maximum rates that the United States signed on to. The panel further concluded that Washington failed to provide adequate justification as to why its measures constituted a justifiable exception.

Recognizing it was stepping into hot waters, the WTO panel recommended the United States bring its measures "into conformity with its obligations" and encouraged the two sides to resolve the broader dispute. 

"The panel is very much aware of the wider context in which the WTO system currently operates, which is one reflecting a range of unprecedented global trade tensions," the 66-page report concluded. "Time is available for the parties to take stock as proceedings evolve and further consider opportunities for mutually agreed and satisfactory solutions," the report urged.  

China's Commerce Ministry showed support for the global multilateral trading system and adherence to WTO rules and rulings, saying it hopes the U.S. would do the same. 

Declaring the WTO as "horrible" and biased towards China, however, Trump found support from Senator Josh Howley (R-M0), who tweeted, "USA should withdraw and lead the effort to abolish it."

Weary of all multilateral institutions, the U.S. president has already quit the United National Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), plans to leave the World Health Organization (WHO), and says he will "have to do something about the WTO" after Tuesday's ruling.

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