Tuesday 25 September 2018

US wants 'reckoning' over Chinese trade policies as Beijing accuses it of bullying

US President Donald Trump is at loggerheads with the WTO. Photo: Getty Images
US President Donald Trump is at loggerheads with the WTO. Photo: Getty Images

Tom Miles

A 'reckoning' over China's 'unfair' trade policies is urgent and is too big for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to handle, US ambassador Dennis Shea told a WTO meeting yesterday.

Washington has raised the stakes in its trade dispute with Beijing, threatening fresh 10pc tariffs on $200bn (€170bn) of Chinese goods. In response, Beijing accused the United States of bullying and said it would complain to the WTO.

However, Mr Shea said the Geneva-based WTO was not the place to settle the row.

"Given China's very large and growing role in international trade, and the serious harm that China's state-led, mercantilist approach to trade and investment causes to China's trading partners, this reckoning can no longer be put off," he said.

"It is clear, moreover, that the WTO currently does not offer all of the tools necessary to remedy this situation," Mr Shea told the two-yearly WTO review of China's trade policies.

Under president Donald Trump, the United States has demanded that the WTO's dispute system is changed to stop the US getting what he regards as an "unfair deal". Mr Trump has blocked appointments to the WTO's appeals chamber to replace judges as their terms expire. Unless he relents, the world's trade dispute system will be unable to operate by the end of 2019 or sooner.

Mr Trump has also made a veiled threat to leave the WTO.

Vice-commerce minister Wang Shouwen defended China's record at the meeting, according to a Geneva trade official.

Speaking before Mr Shea, he called on WTO members to stand up to bullying, protectionism and unilateralism, and called on them to tackle the systemic threats posed by Mr Trump's tariffs on steel and other products, as well as his tariffs directed at China. (Reuters)

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