China on Tuesday filed a complaint against the United States at the World Trade Organization, deepening a riff that stems from Donald Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs.
Beijing asked for 60 days of consultation with the U.S. that, if unsuccessful in resolving the dispute, could serve a precursor to a request for a formal ruling from a commission of experts.
The complaint over Trump’s 25 percent tax on steel and 10 percent penalty on aluminum is separate from the country’s battle with the U.S. over tariffs on Chinese goods that Trump says could rise as high as $160 billion.
Those tariffs are meant to offset the United States’ gaping trade deficit with China and address alleged intellectual property violations.
China on Tuesday filed a complaint against the United States at the World Trade Organization, deepening a riff that stems from Donald Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs. This after China’s Xi Jinping offered concessions on auto and intellectual property tarrifs
China submitted a complaint to WTO linked to those tariffs last Thursday. It will make its way through an identical process.
In a speech on Tuesday that preceded an announcement on the new WTO action, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered concessions on auto tariffs and intellectual property protections in a move aimed at diffusing the worsening trade dispute with Washington.
Speaking at a business conference, the Chinese president made no direct mention of his American counterpart, Donald Trump, or the argument
But he promised progress on areas that are US priorities including opening China’s banking industry and boosting imports.
Trump predicted on Sunday that China would take down its trade barriers, expressing optimism despite escalating trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Xi tried to position China as a defender of free trade and cooperation, despite its status as the most-closed major economy, in response to Mr Trump’s ‘America first’ calls for import restrictions and trade deals that are more favourable to the United States.
‘China’s door of opening up will not be closed and will only open wider. We will take the initiative to expand imports,’ Xi said at the Boao Forum for Asia on the southern island of Hainan.
He said Beijing will ‘significantly lower’ tariffs on vehicle imports this year and ease restrictions on foreign ownership in the car industry ‘as soon as possible’.
‘China does not seek trade surplus – we have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account,’ he said in his keynote speech.
China charges total duties of 25 per cent on most imported cars – a 10 per cent customs tariff plus a 15 percent auto tax.
Donald Trump had predicted China would lower tariffs on imports
Since December 2016, Beijing also has charged an additional 10 percent on ‘super-luxury’ vehicles priced above $200,000.
The Chinese leader also promised to encourage ‘normal technological exchange’ and to ‘protect the lawful ownership rights of foreign enterprises’.
He added that ‘in today’s world, the trend of peace and cooperation is moving forward’ while what he called the ‘Cold War mentality’ was ‘outdated’.
Xi did not, however, address key irritants for Washington such as a requirement for foreign companies to work through joint ventures that require them to give technology to potential local competitors.
The two countries have threatened each other with tens of billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs in recent days and Chinese officials have said this is not the time for negotiations.
But Trump administration officials have stressed that the tariffs are not yet in place and the dispute could be resolved through talks.
Private sector analysts saw Mr Xi’s speech as an overture to help end the biggest global trade dispute since the Second World War.
‘President Xi’s speech could create a very good platform to launch US-China dialogue at the WTO to find a deal on intellectual property rights that will address US concerns,’ said Rajiv Biswas of IHS Markit.
‘This would be a victory for the world trading system and an important step away from the abyss of rising global protectionism.’
Mr Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese goods worth $50 billion (£35 billion) in response to complaints that Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology in violation of its World Trade Organisation market-opening commitments.
Beijing fired back with its own $50 billion list of US goods for possible retaliation.