The World Trade Organization ruled today that US tariffs on Chinese imports are illegal under global trade rules.
The new taxes in question were imposed on Americans by president Donald Trump, ostensibly put in place to combat Chinese efforts to steal intellectual property from US companies through coercive investment pacts, among other tactics. Now, the WTO says the US’s blanket tariffs aren’t a permissible solution under trade agreements the US signed on to starting in 1994.
The ruling itself won’t matter too much—the US can appeal it, and because the US is refusing to appoint new members to the WTO’s appellate board, the end result is legal limbo.
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