China To Appeal To WTO Over U.S. Steel Tariffs

By Agence France-Presse China on March 14 joined the international opposition against a U.S. decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and announced it would appeal the move to the World Trade Organization (WTO). China's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC) said it was "deeply shocked" by the U.S. decision and warned it could harm U.S.-Sino trade relations, according to state-run Xinhua news agency. "This decision not only goes against the WTO rules, but also will have a serious impact on China's normal steel exports to the United States, hence causing huge losses to the steel makers of China," MOFTEC said in a statement, according to Xinhua. MOFTEC said China expected to hold bilateral discussions with the United States over the issue, in accordance with WTO regulations, that could pave the way for compensation claims and retaliatory measures. The statement follows U.S. President George W. Bush's announcement on March 5 that tariffs of up to 30% would be imposed on most steel imports in a bid to rescue the domestic steel industry. But China, a communist and developing nation that only gained admission to the WTO late last year, lectured the United States over the harm the tariffs could have on its domestic economy and international trade. "The United States, as a major world trader, should have fully considered the damage the move might cause to the order of international trade," Xinhua quoted MOFTEC as saying. "Trade protectionism is not the solution to problems and actually hampers the readjustment of the U.S. industrial structure. "China hopes the issues that China is concerned about will be solved through bilateral consultations as soon as possible, so that harm to Sino-U.S. trade relations can be avoided." China will line up with a host of other nations at the WTO who are angry over the U.S. move. The European Union and the United States are to hold talks in Geneva next week to establish a WTO disputes panel over the issue. Japan, New Zealand and Australia also have asked for talks with the U.S. under a mechanism of the WTO's safeguard agreement, which opens the possibility for claiming compensation and retaliation under certain conditions. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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