China, S Korea hit out at new US trade tariffs

China and South Korea on Tuesday hit out at a US decision to impose stinging tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines, which marked the latest salvo in Donald Trump’s “America First” drive.

The US president approved the steep tariffs — up to 50 per cent on large washing machines over three years and up to 30 per cent on solar panels over four years — to protect US producers, US trade officials said.

But South Korea, which signed a free-trade agreement with former President George W. Bush, immediately said it would file a petition against the US at the World Trade Organization.

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In Beijing the commerce ministry warned that “together with other WTO members, China will resolutely defend its legitimate interests”, though it did not indicate any specific counteraction.

The US moves “not only aroused the concern of many trading partners but was also strongly opposed by many local governments and downstream enterprises in the US”, the ministry said in statement attributed to Wang Hejun, the director of the trade remedy and investigation bureau.

The US had previously lost a case with China on how it calculates the price of imports to determine predatory pricing, and said in June 2017 that it would implement the panel’s recommendations within a “reasonable” timeframe.

The WTO arbitrator gave Washington until August 22 to implement the ruling.

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