Washington (CNN)The World Trade Organization said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods break international trade rules.
The WTO sided with a complaint from China over tariffs imposed on about $234 billion of goods in 2018. The panel found that the tariffs violated several rules, including one that countries apply equal tariff rates to all member trading partners.
The ruling from the WTO will have little practical effect, however -- because the group's appeals board has too few members to operate after the Untied States blocked needed appointments.
Trump has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese imports in an effort to bring Beijing to the negotiating table and address issues over intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.
The United States and China agreed to a preliminary deal earlier this year, but most of the tariffs remain in place. They make those goods more expensive for US businesses and sometimes lead to price increases on consumers.
The Trump administration has long criticized the WTO for not holding China accountable. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer slammed the group's ruling Tuesday, arguing that it confirms the body is ineffective.
"Although the panel did not dispute the extensive evidence submitted by the United States of intellectual property theft by China, its decision shows that the WTO provides no remedy for such misconduct," Lighthizer said in a statement.