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WTO Rejects China's Complaint About US Tariffs

A Chinese worker moves large tires at an assembly line for buses made by Chinese auto manufacturer Foton Motor Group in Beijing (File)

The World Trade Organization has rejected a Chinese complaint about U.S. tariffs on imports of Chinese tires, ruling that the U.S. measure complies with global trade rules.

A WTO dispute panel published the ruling Monday. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk praised it as a "major victory" for American workers and businesses, who complained that surging imports of Chinese tires were hurting U.S. tire manufacturers and threatening jobs.

The Obama administration imposed a three-year-long series of tariffs on Chinese tires in September 2009, saying WTO rules allowed such a measure to safeguard U.S. industries. China swiftly complained that tariffs violate WTO rules. Kirk says the WTO dispute panel rejected all of China's arguments in the case.

China joined the WTO in 2001 on condition that its trading partners would have "safeguards" allowing them to impose tariffs on surging Chinese imports that disrupt domestic production.

The WTO ruling comes one day before a major Chinese government delegation holds trade talks with U.S. officials in Washington as part of an annual dialogue.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan is leading Beijing's delegation to the meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Trade that begins Tuesday. U.S. Trade Representative Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will lead the U.S. team.

Some analysts say both sides hope to make progress on contentious trade issues to improve the atmosphere for Chinese President Hu Jintao's planned state visit to the United States next month.

Ahead of the trade talks, members of the U.S. Congress urged American negotiators to press China to do more about ending the piracy of U.S. copyrighted material such as music and movies.

The U.S. lawmakers also criticized China's "indigenous innovation" policy that encourages Chinese government purchases of Chinese-made high-technology products over U.S.-made technology.