US launches five WTO challenges to retaliatory tariffs

US-China trade war: Beijing's trade surplus swells as exporters rush shipments before tariffs go into effect

Later, President Xi Jinping met the European leaders and said the two sides should "join hands to defend multilateralism and a rules-based free trade system", Chinese state television said.

President Trump and the U.S. Trade Representative's Office have said the China tariffs are meant to force that burgeoning country to change its trade policies and do more to prevent the theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property.

China announced today that it filed a World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge to Trump's proposal for a tariff hike on United States dollars 200 billion of Chinese goods. They met amid mounting acrimony over Trump's tariff hikes on goods from China, Europe and other trading partners.

The United States has imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum on the grounds that the imported metals pose a threat to US national security.

"We need 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", said Tusk.

Exports are still a significant chunk of China's economy and the total tariffs implemented or announced by Washington target a vast range of goods, including cars, machinery, electronics and consumer appliances.

Officials have expressed hopes of producing a modest communique that will affirm both sides' commitments to the multilateral trading system.

Forecasters say if the first USA round of tariffs, implemented on 6 July, is expanded to cover another $200bn of goods as Trump has threatened, China's economy could lose 0.4 percentage points, according to HSBC estimates.

Confirmation that China's economy is slowing amid an escalating trade war is a worrying omen for global growth. He reiterated pledges that China would significantly improve market access for foreign companies, reduce tariffs and seek more balanced trade with the EU.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the China-EU Business Roundtable held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Monday, July 16, 2018.

"The EU and China are entering into new territory as ad hoc coalition partners", Fraser Cameron, the director of the EU-Asia Centre, told EUobserver.

Speaking before Trump and Putin were due to meet in Helsinki, European Council President Donald Tusk appealed for leaders to avoid wrecking a political and economic order that nurtured a peaceful Europe and developing China.

The Center for China in the World Economy hinted that China could strike back by sanctioning Apple.

"I hope that China and the European Union can make concrete progress in the area of economic cooperation, for example by pressing ahead with negotiations for a comprehensive investment agreement", Chun said.

The two sides have their respective demands, he underlined, pointing out that China believes it should receive Market Economy Status (MES), which would allow it to enjoy the same market status as the European Union and the U.S. when it comes to anti-dumping investigations before the WTO.

In a sign Beijing is seeking alternative supplies of the commodities as it hit United States imports with extra tariffs, China had dropped import tariffs on a range of animal feed ingredients from several Asian countries. The federal government has said it's consulting with industry so even more can be done to address the diversion and dumping of aluminum and steel in the Canadian market.

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