China appeals to WTO over decision on US steel

BEIJING -- China has appealed a World Trade Organization panel’s finding that it has been unfairly imposing tariffs on a high-technology U.S. steel product.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement posted on its website late Friday that the WTO panel’s report, issued in June, failed to properly interpret relevant regulations. China asked a WTO appellate body to review the report.

The United States lodged a complaint in 2010 that challenged Chinese tariffs on U.S.-made grain-oriented flat-rolled electrical steel. China says it imposed the tariffs because U.S. “Buy American” provisions and state government procurement laws amount to a subsidy.

The Obama administration has been aggressive in filing WTO complaints against China, and Beijing often fights back, as governments try to boost exports amid slumping global demand.

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Under WTO rules, countries are allowed to impose punitive tariffs to offset damage from both subsidies and dumping — selling products at below market value — but the U.S. contends that in this and other cases, China has used those remedy measures in an unfair and retaliatory way that hurts American exporters.

The WTO panel report, if unchallenged, would become a ruling or recommendation within 60 days. The appellate body can uphold, modify or reserve the panel’s legal findings and conclusions.