WTO rules US tariffs on China were unfair

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The US is angered that the WTO has ruled in favor of China in a row over tariffs.

A panel set up by the World Trade Organization (WTO) has agreed that the tariffs imposed by the US on China at the height of their trade war in 2018 were unfair.

The ruling came after a complaint China had filed stating that the levies US president Donald Trump had applied violated WTO rules because they targeted just one country and were higher than its commitments necessitated.

Under WTO rules, all members must be offered equal tariffs among their trading partners.

The Trump administration had drawn on the American legal provision Section 301 to apply the tariffs, which allow the president to restrict any foreign commerce that is seen to negatively impact the US.

Mr Trump claimed at the time he needed to strengthen his nation's intellectual property protections against the Asian country.

Now, the WTO has ruled against the US, a decision slated by its trade representative Robert Lighthizer, who stated: "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."

However, the ruling may not make much difference given that the WTO's Appellate Body is currently out of action due to its appointment system being derailed by the recent actions of the US.