Special Report – Trade Frictions


Disputes between countries within the WTO are normal. China, because of its leading role, is currently involved in several. We highlight the main ones below.

MB October 2021 Special Report | China at the WTO

Australia-China: anti-dumping

Last June, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced that China had filed a complaint against Australia with the WTO. The complaint concerns anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by Australia on Chinese railroad wheels, wind turbines and sinks. “This is the latest stage in an escalating trade dispute between Australia and China,” said Joshua Nelson of the University of Nevada Law School in Las Vegas. “In recent years, the two countries have instituted several rounds of tariffs on each other’s key products, and Australia has restricted the activity of Chinese companies in Australia.” In 2018, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison banned Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network. Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year called for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, and an Australian National Party senator called China the “greatest threat” to the country’s freedoms and future prosperity . Japan’s ambassador to Australia said Australia “is not going alone” in its trade war against China. “Trade should never be used as a tool to exert political pressure,” Ambassador Yamagami said, signaling his disapproval of China’s behavior towards Australia.

Canada-China: canola

China suspended imports of canola seeds from Canadian companies in March 2019, “while also subjecting shipments of other Canadian companies to increased inspections, due to the detection of pests.” The two countries attempted to resolve the dispute, but talks collapsed in October 2019, with Canada requesting intervention from the WTO Dispute Settlement Body.

“Canada’s canola growers are hopeful that the WTO complaint against China can ease costly lockdowns on seed exports,” said the South China Morning Postwritten, but China, as expected, blocked Canada’s first request to establish a panel to investigate the restrictions imposed by Beijing. Last July, Canada finally succeeded in establishing a WTO panel. According to its statement, the Canola Council of Canada “supports the Government of Canada’s action to take the next step in the WTO process by establishing a WTO dispute settlement panel.”

Japan-China: stainless steel

Last June, Japan filed a complaint against China over an anti-dumping duty on stainless steel products, which was introduced in July 2019. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement on its website that the move comes after “Japan has repeatedly called on China to remove the measure in bilateral talks.” Japan claims that the measure in question, imposed in 2019 by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, appears to be inconsistent with various provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and the Anti-Dumping Agreement. Tokyo has therefore asked the WTO for consultations on the disputes with Beijing, a process that officially initiates a dispute at the WTO. “The consultations give the parties the opportunity to discuss the matter and find a satisfactory solution without going further into the dispute,” the WTO said.

United States-China: trade war

In his speech to the World Economic Forum on January 25, 2021, President Xi Jinping underlined, as an indirect message to the new US administration, the need to uphold international law, strengthen multilateral institutions and adopt “the consultation and cooperation rather than conflict and confrontation. “But China and the United States are embroiled in a trade war – a game with no real winner. Before the start of this trade war, the United States sold $ 24 million worth of agricultural products to China.

This represented 20 to 25 percent of all Chinese imports of agricultural products. In 2018 and 2019, tariffs hampered US sales to China, reducing that market share to just 10%. According to Xinquan Tu, dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the Beijing University of International Affairs and Economics: “Thanks to the increase in tariffs on Chinese products, the United States The United States hoped to reduce the trade deficit with China, shift costs to Chinese exporters, and force companies to move their supply chain activities from China to the United States or other countries. But such expectations have failed, as tariff hikes have undermined the competence of American businesses, held back American economic development, and hurt the American people due to higher product prices and shrinking jobs. “

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