According to a White House statement regarding the WTO complaint, about 80 per cent of US vehicle exports to China will attract the import tariffs. Exports valued at about $US3 billion ($2.9 billion) a year.
The duties, that will primarily affect vehicles made by Chrysler and General Motors, could potentially see the price of a luxury car increase by as much as 21.5 per cent, a rise that US President Barack Obama views as unfair.
"Americans aren't afraid to compete; we believe in competition. As long as we're competing on a fair playing field, instead of an unfair playing field, we'll do just fine," President Obama said.
President Obama made the comments at the start of a two-day campaign tour of the US car-making states Ohio and Michigan, ahead of November's US presidential elections.
Bloomberg reports that the Chinese commerce ministry said in a statement that China will "appropriately" deal with the latest complaint according to the WTO's dispute settlement procedures.
America's complaint against China signals the start of WTO dispute proceedings, meaning both governments must now hold talks for a minimum of two months in an effort to resolve the dispute. Reports suggest that if the talks fail to satisfactorily resolve the dispute, the US government may ask WTO judges to make a ruling.
Read our story on June 2012 US car sales.