Consultation to resolve Sino-US trade disputes

Updated: 2013-12-04 08:20

By Li Jiabao (China Daily)

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'Sophisticated approach' sought in challenging US measures

China requested consultations with the United States on Tuesday under the World Trade Organization dispute-settlement mechanism over alleged US misconduct in 13 anti-dumping measures involving Chinese products.

Under WTO rules, the US has 10 days to respond. If it fails to respond, China can ask for a WTO panel to look into the dispute.

The request suggests China's more sophisticated approach in challenging US trade remedy measures, analysts said.

"Obvious misconduct exists on the part of the US Commerce Department. In its anti-dumping measures, it acted inconsistently with WTO rules, which caused great trouble to Chinese enterprises and disrupted normal trade between the two countries," said Yang Guohua, deputy director-general of the Department of Treaty and Law at the Ministry of Commerce.

Thirteen categories of Chinese products, including oil well pipes, solar cells and warm-water shrimp, are in dispute. The annual export value of these products to the US market reached $8.4 billion, according to the ministry.

Yang said that the US "did not meet the WTO requirements or make sufficient explanations" when claiming that Chinese enterprises were involved in "targeted dumping", which means exporters dumped their products in a specific region or period, or with specific purchasers.

Chen Yusong, a director of the treaty department, said, "We are confident that we will win WTO support in the dispute as the US actions obviously run against WTO rules."

He added China talked with the US for a long time to no avail before deciding to resort to the WTO dispute-settlement procedure.

Solving these trade disputes with the US through the WTO would be efficient and cost-effective, he added.

China-US trade in the January-October period increased 6.9 percent year-on-year to $423 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said that China firmly opposes abuse of trade remedy measures and hopes the US will correct its mistakes.

Chen said the case may last one to three years. "Chinese enterprises will not get back the tax paid even if the WTO supports China's complaint, but the US will be forced to correct its moves."

Since joining the WTO in 2001, China has launched 12 complaints under the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body and has won the body's support in all but one case, according to Yang.

The targets were the US and EU, which have "great trade interests with China". In addition, the country responded to 19 disputes under the body, with major challenges being from the US, the EU, Japan and Mexico, Yang said.

"The US is often found to have acted inconsistently with WTO rules," said Sun Zhenyu, chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies and China's former ambassador to the WTO.

Duncan Freeman, senior research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said that when China first acceded to the WTO it was very cautious in using the system to defend its interests. "But in recent years we have seen China increasingly using the WTO to actively defend itself from actions by other governments, and this latest development is another example."

He said that China is not focusing on one specific action by the US, but is attempting to more broadly counter actions by the US and the EU.

Fu Jing in Brussels contributed to this story.