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China decides to lodge case at WTO over latest US tariffs

A computer screen shows images of Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump as a currency trader works at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on Aug. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China has decided to lodge a case at the World Trade Organization over the latest U.S imposition of import duties on Chinese exports to the United States, over which it is "strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed," according to a Commerce Ministry statement.

The ministry said Monday the case will be lodged under the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism after the United States on Sunday began imposing 15 percent duties on around $300 billion of Chinese product, such as clothing, laptop computers and smartphones.

It said the U.S. move seriously violates a consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump when they met in Osaka in late June on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit, at which Time said Washington would not impose new tariffs "at least for the time being."

In accordance with relevant WTO rules, it said, China will firmly safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and resolutely defend the multilateral trading system.

Sunday's move marked the first stage of a new round of tariffs that will see nearly all Chinese imports taxed, further fueling tensions in the tit-for-tat trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The United States had already imposed levies on a total of $250 billion in Chinese goods -- roughly half the amount China sold to the United States last year -- as Trump pushes to reduce the chronic U.S. trade deficit with China and to address alleged intellectual property and technology theft by Chinese companies.

The tariff hikes on Chinese goods are the fourth by the Trump administration and reflect the frustration over the lack of progress in trade talks with China.

The rate of the additional duties was initially set at 10 percent. But after China announced retaliatory tariffs, Trump reacted by deciding to raise it by 5 percentage points.

As a result, 15 percent duties have become effective Sunday on around $112 billion worth of Chinese goods, including clothing, shoes and agricultural products and accessories like the Apple Watch. The Dec. 15 tariff hike will involve laptop computers, cellphones and video game consoles, among other items.

Trump has delayed part of the tariff increases to December, taking into consideration the possible impact on consumption especially around the Christmas holiday shopping season.

China also imposed Sunday up to 10 percent tariffs on some of the $75 billion worth of U.S. goods it has targeted for its latest countermeasures. The rest will be implemented on Dec. 15.

It will also resume imposing tariffs of 25 percent and 5 percent on U.S.-made vehicles and auto parts starting from Dec. 15.

The United States and China are planning to hold ministerial- level trade talks in September in Washington, but it is uncertain whether there will be any breakthrough.

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