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Thousands of US firms sue Trump administration over anti-China tariffs

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A passer-by, below left, walks toward an entrance to a Home Depot store in Boston, Jan. 27, 2020. (Photo by AP)

Nearly 3,500 US firms -- including major corporations such as Tesla, Ford Motor, Target, Walgreens and Home Depot -- have taken legal action against the administration of President Donald Trump for imposing tariffs on more than $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The lawsuits, filed within the past two weeks in the US Court of International Trade, target Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the Customs and Border Protection agency, contesting what they refer to as unlawful escalation of Washington’s trade war with China by way of imposing a third and fourth round of tariffs.

The legal complaints came from a broad range of companies, arguing that the Trump administration failed to impose the China tariffs within a required 12-month period and did not conform to administrative procedures.

The development came shortly after the World Trade Organization (WTO) found on September 15 that Washington violated global trading guidelines by imposing multibillion-dollar tariffs as part of the Trump administration’s trade war waged against China.

In a 66-page report, the Geneva-based organization said the US duties broke trade rules because they applied only to China and were above the maximum rates agreed to by Washington.

The US-based companies further challenge the administration’s “unbounded and unlimited trade war impacting billions of dollars in goods imported from the People’s Republic of China by importers in the United States,” according to a legal complaint filed by auto parts manufacturer Dana Corp.

Another suit argues that Washington cannot expand tariffs to other Chinese imports “for reasons untethered to the unfair intellectual property policies and practices it originally investigated.”

The Trump administration has claimed that the tariffs on Chinese goods were justified since China was allegedly stealing intellectual property and requiring US companies to transfer technology for access to markets in the world’s most populous country.

Among the major firms taking legal action against the Trump administration were heavy truck manufacturer Volvo Group North America, US auto parts retailer Pep Boys, clothing company Ralph Lauren, Sysco Corp, guitar manufacturer Gibson Brands, Lenovo’s US unit, Dole Packaged Foods, a unit of Itochu and golf equipment manufacturer Callaway Golf, according to the report.

Trump signed a trade agreement with China’s Vice Premier Liu He in January. The deal was a bid to end the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. It included pledges from China to import an additional 200 billion dollars’ worth of US products over two years.

The US, in turn, pledged to slash in half its tariffs of 15 percent on about 120 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese consumer goods. However, tariffs on two-thirds of over $500 billion in imports from China remain in place.

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