China will defend its legitimate interests with other members of the World Trade Organization after the United States announced tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines, the Ministry of Commerce said on Jan 23.
The move, approved by the US government on Jan 22, is in line with the Trump administration’s “America First” trade policy designed to protect domestic producers.
China expressed its strong dissatisfaction with the US for enacting such a broad measure that it called an abuse of trade remedies.
Wang Hejun, head of the Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau at the Ministry of Commerce, said this decision not only aroused the concern of many trading partners but is also strongly opposed by many local governments and downstream businesses inside the US that benefit from inexpensive and efficient imported products.
“The US has taken continuous trade remedy measures against imported photovoltaic cells and large washing machines that have fully or even overly protected related industries in the US,” he said.
The US government levied tariffs of up to 50 percent on imports of large residential washing machines over three years, and up to 30 percent on solar cells over four years.
“South Korean washing machine makers and Chinese solar cell manufacturers will be heavily affected by the US move,” said Ma Yu, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.
“Trade remedy measures won’t solve difficulties such as out-of-date technologies and high labor and maintenance costs facing domestic industries in the US,” he said.
The ministry stressed that the foundation of the international economic recovery is still fragile and requires the concerted efforts and actions of all countries.
US trade experts have played down the impact of the tariffs. “The safeguard tariffs are not a surprise. The Trump administration has often said that it will take a sympathetic view of industry complaints in safeguard cases, anti-dumping and countervailing cases and national security cases. That’s what it did,” said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
“I expect that China and other countries that now face trade restrictions will bring complaints to the WTO and retaliate in opaque ways. Tit-for-tat is now the name of the game,” he said.