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China files WTO tariff dispute case against US

China has filed a complaint against the US at the World Trade Organization (WTO), challenging the additional duties applied on imports of Chinese goods last week.

The notification, made yesterday (27 August), requests dispute consultations with the US regarding the additional 25% tariff, applied to US$16bn in annual Chinese imports on 23 August.

China claims the tariff is inconsistent with the provisions of the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1994) in that they apply solely to products of Chinese origin and exceed the United States' bound duty rates.

The request adds the measures at issue appear to "nullify or impair" benefits accruing to China directly or indirectly under the cited agreements.

The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a solution without proceeding further with litigation.

The move will only serve to further stir up tensions between China and the US, which have been engaged in an tit-for-tat trade war. Delegations from the two countries met in Washington last week in a bid to bring an end to the escalating spat, which most recently saw China retaliate on the 23 August tariff implementation with its own 25% tax on US goods of the same value.

The moves bring the amount levied to a combined $100bn since the first round of tariffs went into effect in July – $50bn from each side.

Little progress was said to have been made during last week's discussions.

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