April 4, 2018 / 7:54 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. says China's WTO objection to steel, aluminium tariffs 'baseless'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Beijing’s objections to U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs are “completely baseless” and there is no justification to impose $3 billion (2.13 billion pounds) in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. fruits, nuts and other goods, the Trump administration said it told China and the World Trade Organization Wednesday.

China’s requests for consultations under WTO rules and its objection to tariffs were based on an erroneous conclusion that the steel and aluminium tariffs were “global safeguard” measures to protect industry against a surge of imports, the communication issued by the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office said.

But USTR said that the steel and aluminium tariffs were put in place on national security grounds. WTO rules include an exemption for measures related to national security.

USTR said it would not engage in discussions with China about its safeguard objections to the tariffs.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Susan Thomas

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