US ups the ante in trade-dispute with China
The US has for some time sharply criticised China’s trade policies, accusing it of failing to play by the rules based international order enshrined by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and international commerce for more than 20 years.
When China joined the WTO, Beijing was expected to dismantle its existing policies and practices that didn’t comply with the rulebook, said David Bisbee, the charge d’affaires at the US mission in Geneva “but those expectations have not been realised, and “it appears that China has no inclination to change,” he said, as reported by Bloomberg
“Instead, China has used the imprimatur of WTO membership to become the WTO’s largest trader, while doubling down on its state-led, non-market approach to trade, to the detriment of workers and businesses in the United States and other countries,” said Mr Bisbee.
The US will continue to use “all available tools in an effort to persuade China to make needed changes,” Bisbee said.
Despite making some progress through the 2019 phase one US-China trade agreement, America’s “most fundamental concerns with China’s trade regime remain unaddressed,” he said.
Questionable are Beijing’s industrial policies including market access limitations, investment restrictions, massive subsidies that lead to excess capacity, and preferential treatment for state-owned enterprises.
“China’s industrial policies skew the playing field against imported goods and services and foreign manufacturers and services suppliers through an array of supporting measures,” Mr Bisbee said. “China uses these measures to secure dominance in global markets, which undermines US economic interests.”
Since 2001 the US won 27 WTO dispute settlement cases against China but China “often did not change the underlying policies, and meaningful reforms by China remained elusive”.
The US also criticised China’s use of “economic coercion” to pressure smaller nations to act in accordance to Beijing’s wishes. “If another WTO member speaks out against or otherwise offends China, China’s response increasingly has been to use its economic clout to pressure the offending country to ‘correct its mistakes,'” Mr Bisbee said.
Australia’s ambassador to the WTO George Mina said his country is concerned about Chinese trade behavior that may be motivated by “political considerations”.
“Over the past 18 months, China has increasingly implemented trade disruptive measures targeting a wide range of Australian products,” Mr Mina said in prepared remarks. “Such measures have severely limited or ended Australia’s trade with China across more than a dozen commodities, including barley, coal, cotton, hay, logs, meat, rock lobsters and wine.”