Bei­jing asks mem­bers of WTO to unite

China Daily European Weekly - - CHINA NEWS - By JING SHUIYU and ZHONG NAN Contact the writ­ers at jing­shuiyu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China has called for mem­bers of the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion to op­pose the trade sanc­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the United States, say­ing the uni­lat­eral ac­tion is detri­men­tal to all par­ties.

The re­cent US move will not only im­pair the rights and in­ter­ests of China and other WTO mem­bers, but se­ri­ously un­der­mines the mul­ti­lat­eral trad­ing sys­tem, Chi­nese WTO Am­bas­sador Zhang Xiangchen said at a re­cent WTO meet­ing in Geneva.

The com­ments came amid grow­ing con­cern over the es­ca­lat­ing trade ten­sions be­tween the world’s two largest economies.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der Sec­tion 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974 are purely uni­lat­eral and “vi­o­late the most fun­da­men­tal val­ues and prin­ci­ples” of the WTO, Zhang said at the meet­ing of the WTO’s Coun­cil on Trade in Goods.

“The US is set­ting a very bad prece­dent by bluntly breach­ing its com­mit­ment made to the world,” Zhang warned.

He fur­ther urged WTO mem­bers to unite to pre­vent the res­ur­rec­tion of 301 in­ves­ti­ga­tions and “lock this beast back into the cage” of the WTO rules.

“Uni­lat­er­al­ism is fun­da­men­tally in­com­pat­i­ble with the WTO, like fire and wa­ter. In the open sea, if the boat capsizes, no one is safe from drown­ing,” Zhang said. “The WTO is un­der siege, and all of us should lock arms to de­fend it.”

Since US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed a mem­o­ran­dum on March 22 that could lead to the im­po­si­tion of stiff tar­iffs on China, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has paid close at­ten­tion to the is­sue for fear of the neg­a­tive im­pact.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion on March 26 into im­ports of steel prod­ucts to the Euro­pean Union in re­sponse to the re­cent US alu­minum and steel tar­iff plan.

The com­mis­sion said in a state­ment that im­ports of cer­tain steel prod­ucts are ex­pected to grow faster as steel man­u­fac­tur­ers that are sub­jected to the US tar­iffs di­vert their prod­uct to Europe.

The study, which may last up to nine months, could lead the EU to im­pose its own quo­tas or tar­iffs on steel to pre­vent harm to its own in­dus­try.

China’s Min­istry of Com­merce said that while the EU’s re­sponse to the US tar­iff mea­sures is un­der­stand­able, adopt­ing trade pro­tec­tion mea­sures is not the right choice.

Wang He­jun, head of the min­istry’s trade rem­edy and in­ves­ti­ga­tion bureau, said the EU ac­tion will fur­ther “worsen the chaotic in­ter­na­tional trade” caused by the US, which might lead to more se­ri­ous dam­age to the nor­mal trade or­der.

China is will­ing to strengthen com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the EU to cope with the chaos gen­er­ated by the US alu­minum and steel tar­iffs, Wang said.

US agri­cul­tural con­glom­er­ate Cargill Inc has ex­pressed deep con­cern about the in­creas­ing trade ten­sions be­tween the US and China.

The world is in­ter­de­pen­dent, and the cost of a trade war would be too high, the com­pany said in a state­ment. “The im­pact of trade con­flict be­tween the world’s two largest economies could lead to a de­struc­tive trade war with se­ri­ous con­se­quences for eco­nomic growth and job cre­ation.”

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