USA challenges trading partners' retaliatory tariffs at WTO

13 2018 shows Chinese employees sewing US flags at a factory in Fuyang in China’s eastern Anhui province. As the Sino-US trade war rages a factory set amid corn and mulberry fields in central China stitches together US and

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, calling for closer partnership between China and the European Union.

Both Washington and Beijing slapped tariffs on Dollars 34 billion of each others' goods earlier this month, with the USA threatening to impose further tariffs on another USD 200 billion in Chinese goods.

"We see a China that is seeking alliances as countermeasures to the USA actions", the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, Mats Harborn, said last week.

"But that's not what's happening here, instead we're somewhat caught between what might be thought of as a 1930s style trade war and a truly legal trade war, meaning that it's not unconstrained retaliation", Busch said. According to the Trump administration, these include outright cybertheft and forcing US companies to hand over trade secrets in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

The initial US tariffs covered mostly machinery and industrial parts, while China's retaliation meant tariffs primarily on American farm products and other foods.

Canada, China, the EU, Mexico and Turkey have imposed retaliatory tariffs on US$23.4 billion worth of USA goods in response to Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The Beijing summit convened hours before Trump was slated to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki - a fraught meeting further complicated by America's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

EU President Donald Tusk warned that trade wars can lead to "hot conflicts" while summit host, China's Premier Li Keqiang, said nobody will win from the dispute. The US remains a formidable military and economic power which has close relations with numerous states with whom China has difficulties. Putin, meanwhile, said "the time has come to have a thorough discussion on various worldwide problems and sensitive issues".

The move is unusually swift, coming less than one week after the U.S. Trade Representative proposed 10 percent tariffs on a $200 list of Chinese goods.

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Trade, military issues, and China are among some of the many topics the two will discuss, Trump said during opening remarks. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has bristled with Trump, said he "did not think this was a good moment for our country".

Of greater concern than trade is "slowing domestic demand within China's economy", said Tom Rafferty of the Economist Intelligence Unit in a report.

In an allusion to China's subsidies for state-owned firms and other practices that the West sees as unfair, Mr Tusk said the modernisation of the WTO should include "new rules in the field of industrial subsidies, intellectual property and forced technology transfers, reduction of trade costs, as well as a new approach to development and more effective dispute settlement".

China is the No. 1 trading partner for its Asian neighbours and buys oil, iron ore and other raw materials from Australia, Brazil and elsewhere.

China has become the largest trading partner of over 120 countries and regions, and is the fastest growing export market, attracting the most foreign investment in the world.

What Canada and the European Union are arguing is that the US never compensated for using a safeguard, Busch said.

The European Union on Monday urged the United States, China and Russian Federation to work together to ease worsening global trade tensions, warning that they could otherwise spiral into "conflict and chaos".

The two sides are firmly committed to fostering an open world economy, promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and resisting protectionism and unilateralism.

Though European leaders have condemned Trump's trade strategy, they also have criticized China's commercial environment for outsiders. Many feel that it may already be too late to do anything about this.

In the margins of the Summit, Juncker also participated in the EU-China Business Roundtable.

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