WTO Rules Against China Retaliatory Tariffs On US Imports

World Trade Organization (WTO) experts ruled on Wednesday that China’s tariffs imposed on US imports as retaliation for American steel and aluminum tariffs violate international trade rules. The panel, set up to address disputes in the ongoing trade war between the two nations, found China’s additional duties inconsistent with General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) articles. The WTO panel rejected China’s argument that its actions were an emergency “safeguard” measure, allowing unilateral retaliation. The decision was welcomed by the US Trade Representative’s spokesperson, who stated saying it recognized that China “illegally retaliated with sham ‘safeguard’ tariffs”.   Read more from Reuters.

U.S. Solar Panel Manufacturer Uncovers Forced Labor in Factory

A leading U.S. solar panel maker, First Solar, revealed this week in an internal audit that migrant workers in its Malaysian factory were victims of forced labor. The revelation was published in a corporate sustainability report, implicating four onsite service providers for unethical recruitment. The report added, “Our industry’s work to power the energy transition and enable the fight against climate change does not serve as credits to offset its social and human rights obligations.” Read more from Reuters.

U.S. Warns Companies Against Doing Business in South Sudan

The departments of Labor, State and Commerce issued an advisory this week against doing business in South Sudan due to “the growing reputational, legal and economic risks.” The advisory states, “These risks continue to grow as a result of South Sudan’s transitional government’s failure to implement political and economic reforms, improve transparency and public financial management, and address pervasive, endemic corruption and human rights violations.” The Labor Department says the violations include forcing children to serve in combat and serve as cooks, porters and spies. Read the State Department’s business advisory.

APHIS Would Raise Some AQI Fees More Than 300%

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing fee increases related to its agricultural quarantine and inspection (AQI) program to pay for “the level of effort it takes to inspect the average ship and its cargo and reflects the expanded capacity of modern container ships.” The fee for inspection of commercial vessels of 100 net tons or more would go up from the current rate of $825 fee to $3,219.29 by Jan. 1, 2024. By 2027, the schedule puts the fee at $3,557.18. APHIS says in the notice, “the user fee would still represent a fraction of the value of goods being imported by vessel generally (0.02 percent).” Comments are due by October 10, 2023. Read the APHIS notice.

U.S. Import Prices Bounce Back

U.S. import prices rebounded more than expected last month due, in part, to higher gas and food prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says import prices increased 0.4% last month after falling 0.1% in June. The report also showed export prices rose 0.7% in July. Read the U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes summary.