By Denna Bowman
The investigation into the import taxes the US placed on Chinese tyres was officially launched by the World Trade Organisation today.
The Obama administration slapped the tariff on the tyres made in China in response to claims that a surge in the imports was putting the domestic industry and and American jobs at risk.
The dispute focuses on a three-year tariff approved in September by President Barack Obama and is the latest in a string of trade battles between the two countries.
China told the WTO that the United States had broken a vow it has made with other world powers to avoid protectionism.
At a meeting of trade diplomats, US official Juan Millan expressed Washington’s disappointment in the new case but said the tariffs were fully legal.
Millan justified the tyre charges on a safeguard clause in the agreement that allowed China to join the global trade body in 2001, claiming: “Our measure is consistent with our WTO obligations.”
He added: “We find it regrettable that China, which has benefited greatly from its exports to the United States, would dispute this safeguard.”
The arbitrators will evaluate whether the US tariffs violate rules governing trade among the WTO’s 153 members. Trade cases often take years to resolve, but can result in the WTO authorising retaliatory sanctions.
Obama ordered the higher tyre tariffs for three years, including a 35 percent additional charge in the first year. It comes on top of a regular 4 percent tariff.