The US government has welcomed a World Trade Organisation ruling that upheld president Barack Obama's controversial decision last year to impose duties on Chinese-made tyres to protect US workers from a market-disrupting surge in imports.

"This is a major victory for the United States and particularly for American workers and businesses," US trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement cited by Reuters.

The news agency noted the ruling came as Chinese officials were gathering in Washington for high-level trade talks under an annual forum called the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.

"We have said all along that our imposition of duties on Chinese tyres was fully consistent with our WTO obligations. It is significant that the WTO panel has agreed with us, on all grounds," Kirk was also quoted as saying.

WTO to rule on US/China tyre tiff