U.S. Said to Win WTO Dispute With China Over Autos, Parts

The World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of the U.S. in a dispute with China involving cars and auto parts, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The U.S. in 2012 lodged a complaint with the Geneva-based WTO challenging Chinese duties on auto imports from the U.S. A separate U.S. complaint that year said China unfairly subsidized its auto and auto parts manufacturers.

The U.S. is set to announce the victory tomorrow in Washington. It follows decision in March in which the WTO agreed with the U.S. that China’s limits on exports of rare-earths elements used in electronics violate trade rules.

Officials from the Chinese Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision involving automobiles.

The administration of President Barack Obama this week dramatically escalated its trade battle with China, accusing five military leaders of stealing corporate secrets. The indictments are on top of complaints over issues such as tires, chicken parts, rare-earth minerals and credit-card payment services.

Since 2009, the U.S. has filed 17 cases at the WTO against China and other nations, including Indonesia and India, according to the U.S Trade Representative’s office. The U.S. doubled the rate of filings against China over that time.

The automobile issue has drawn recent attention. The U.S. in July 2012 filed a WTO complaint seeking to offset Chinese duties on more than $3 billion worth of auto imports from the U.S. The Beijing government had alleged that the U.S. industry gained an unfair edge in trade by using government subsidies and selling the goods in China below their value, a practice known as dumping.

Two months later, the U.S. filed the second WTO case against China alleging the Beijing government subsidized its own auto and auto-parts makers in violation of global trade rules.

(Updates with recent WTO decision in third paragraph.)
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