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WTO says Australian duties on Chinese steel products were flawed

BERLIN/SYDNEY (Reuters) -A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has found that duties imposed by Australia in a steel products dispute with China were flawed - a ruling that Canberra said it accepted.

China launched the complaint in June 2021 - during a period of intense bilateral political and trade tensions - over anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on railway wheels, wind towers and stainless steel sinks.

In all three categories, the WTO said Australia's investigating authority, the Anti-Dumping Commission (ADC), had acted inconsistently with some articles of its rules.

Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell said in a statement that the panel had found some technical issues with how the duties were calculated.

"Australia will engage with China and take steps to implement the panel's findings," Farrell said.

"The report does not diminish the integrity of Australia's trade remedies system. Our system is evidence-based and non-discriminatory and will continue to respond effectively to unfair trade practices."

China called WTO's ruling objective, fair and unambiguous, and urged Australia to rectify what it called "violations" by removing the disputed tariffs.

Canberra had imposed duties totalling 10.9% on Chinese wind towers, 17.4% on railway wheels and up to 60.2% on stainless steel sinks.

Australia and China, its largest trading partner, are rebuilding ties after a period of strained relations which hit a low in 2020 after Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origin of COVID-19.

Other trade spats including one over high Chinese tariffs on Australian barley have been resolved.

China will complete a review into tariffs on Australian wine by the end of March and it is also reviewing curbs on lobster imports, Farrell said this month.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney, Liz Lee in Beijing, Rachel More in Berlin and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Matthias Williams and Edwina Gibbs)