The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office welcomed a report from the World Trade Organization calling U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs justified for security reasons. The WTO report recognized that U.S. Section 232 actions on steel and aluminum are security measures, and that China illegally retaliated with sham “safeguard” tariffs. The panel rejected China’s argument that the U.S. Section 232 actions are safeguard measures that may be “rebalanced” under WTO rules. However, officials from China called on the U.S. to lift the tariffs imposed on Chinese products following the report. China’s commerce ministry claims the root cause lies in “the unilateralist and protectionist” nature of the United States. China maintains that its actions “are a legitimate move to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.” Tariffs imposed on American agricultural exports in retaliation for Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports led to an overall $27 billion reduction in U.S. ag exports from mid-2018 to the end of 2019.
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