MINNEAPOLIS The U.S. decision to slap steep additional duties on tire imports from China is meant to enforce trade rules and not spark a trade war, the White House said on Saturday.
"This is simply about enforcing the rules of the road and creating a trade system that is based on those rules and is fair for everybody," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One as President Barack Obama traveled to talk about his healthcare initiative.
Less than two weeks before world economic powers meet in Pittsburgh to discuss their efforts to help countries recover from the global downturn, the spat over the tires threatens to overshadow the gathering.
Still, amid a sharp rebuke from Beijing, the White House said that the new duties would not risk provoking a trade war with one of its biggest trading partners.
"For trade to work for everybody, it has to be based on fairness and rules," Gibbs said. "We're simply enforcing those rules and we expect the Chinese to understand those rules."
The new duty of 35 percent will take effect on September 26 and adds to an existing 4 percent duty. The extra duty would fall to 30 percent in the second year and 25 percent in the third year.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, writing by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Jackie Frank)