China complains to WTO that US fails to implement tariff ruling, in sign of escalating trade tensions

Containers being offloaded at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California.
Containers being offloaded at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In another sign of escalating trade tensions between China and the United States, Beijing told the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday (May 13) that Washington was failing to implement a WTO ruling against punitive US tariffs on a range of Chinese goods.

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said it had requested consultations with the United States over the issue, and anti-subsidy duties on products including solar panels, wind towers and steel pipe used in the oil industry.

China's complaint to the WTO was filed just days after Washington lodged a similar complaint against China, accusing it of unfairly continuing punitive duties on U.S. exports of broiler chicken products in violation of WTO rules. "By disregarding the WTO rules and rulings, the United States has severely impaired the integrity of WTO rules and the interests of Chinese industries," MOFCOM said in a statement distributed by the Chinese embassy in Washington.

The case was first brought before the WTO by China in 2012 against US duties on 15 diverse product categories that also include thermal paper, steel sinks and tow-behind lawn grooming equipment.

In December 2014, the WTO's Appellate Body ruled in favor of Chinese claims that the products subject to duties had not benefited from subsidies from "public bodies" favoring particular manufacturers.

The deadline for implementation of the rulings and recommendations of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, set through binding arbitration, expired on April 1, according to WTO records.

A US Trade Representative spokesman said the United States had been "working diligently to comply with the recommendations"and to fully conform with its WTO obligations.

He added that the US response to China's request for consultations would come "in due course".

Trade tensions between the two largest economies have been rising in the past year as China's economic slowdown floods world markets with manufactured goods. US producers of steel and aluminum have filed a number of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy complaints against imports from China.

On Tuesday, the US Commerce Department is scheduled to announce its final determination in an anti-dumping investigations of imports of cold-rolled flat steel products from both China and Japan.

That case was brought by major US producers US Steel Corp, AK Steel Corp Arcelor Mittal USA, Nucor Corp and Steel Dyanmics Inc.