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Trade war

China takes US to WTO over tariffs, putting trade talks in jeopardy

Beijing says it is 'extremely dissatisfied' with breach of consensus

China's Commerce Ministry accused U.S. President Donald Trump of violating a consensus reached with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China announced Monday a complaint with the World Trade Organization, the day after the U.S. imposed a 15% tariff on $110 billion in Chinese goods, adding to uncertainty over plans for high-level trade talks this month.

"The tariffs imposed by the United States severely violated the consensus reached by the two heads of state in Osaka," the Commerce Ministry said in a statement reported by the official Xinhua News Agency.

China is "extremely dissatisfied with and resolutely opposes" the tariffs, the ministry said.

Sunday's tariff action is the first part of a round of U.S. duties on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. The rest of the round, which applies to consumer electronics like smartphones, has been pushed back until December.

U.S. President Donald Trump had agreed at a June meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to hold off on new tariffs. But he announced a new round after late-July trade talks in Shanghai failed to yield the results his administration had sought.

Beijing is likely trying to demonstrate its support for the WTO through the complaint, in contrast to Trump's seeming disregard for the organization and for multilateral trade frameworks.

"China will firmly safeguard its own legitimate rights and interests and resolutely uphold the multilateral trading system as well as the international trade order," the Commerce Ministry said.

China already has imposed retaliatory tariffs on most of its goods imports from the U.S. and has little ammunition left for responding in kind.

The two sides were supposed to hold a cabinet-level meeting on trade in Washington early this month. But the Chinese Commerce Ministry hinted in late August that the U.S. would need to scrap its planned new tariffs for the talks to proceed.

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