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Obama-era trade law survives Chinese appeal at WTO

GENEVA (Reuters) - China failed to overturn a U.S. law targeting unfair trade subsidies on Monday, when the World Trade Organization's Appellate Body said it did not have enough information to uphold China's appeal against an earlier WTO ruling.

China had claimed that the U.S. "Public Law 112-99," also known as the GTX legislation, which was signed by President Barack Obama in March 2012, broke world trade rules, but a WTO dispute panel ruled against it in March.

The Appellate Body disagreed with several of the panel's interpretations of the law but said it did not have enough information to rule one way or the other, effectively leaving the March ruling intact.

However, the Appellate Body also left intact another part of the panel's ruling, which said that the United States had wrongly "double counted" when punishing Chinese goods for being both subsidized and unfairly priced - allowing both parties to claim victory.

In a statement, China's Ministry of Commerce said the dispute was "another significant victory of China's challenge against the United States' abuse of trade remedy measures".

But the United States said the ruling showed it acted within its rights when introducing the legislation.

“Today’s decision allows U.S. industries to continue to rely on U.S. trade laws to address unfair competition from their subsidized Chinese competitors," Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said.

The U.S. tariffs affected photovoltaic cells and modules used in solar power, various steel products, off-road tires, aluminum goods and towers for wind farms.

China said the annual value of trade affected was $7.2 billion.

It launched the complaint in September 2012, in an apparent tit-for-tat move that came hours after the United States lodged a complaint against China's support for car exports.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Additional reporting by Krista Hughes in Washington; Editing by Robert Evans and Jonathan Oatis)

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