Expert: U.S. should abide by WTO rules promoting trade and business
Shipping containers are seen stacked at the Port of Oakland, California, U.S., August 7, 2023. /CFP
Shipping containers are seen stacked at the Port of Oakland, California, U.S., August 7, 2023. /CFP

Shipping containers are seen stacked at the Port of Oakland, California, U.S., August 7, 2023. /CFP

Business communities in China, the United States and other members of World Trade Organization (WTO) should pay close attention to the impact of U.S. actions that undermine the multilateral trading system, and urge the U.S. to abide by WTO rules and fulfill its commitments, said an expert based in Beijing.

Liao Shiping, an expert on the Legal Advisory Committee on Economic and Trade Frictions of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, made the remarks after the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) issued a report on Friday on the U.S. fulfillment of its obligations under WTO rules.

The report expressed concerns over U.S. policy measures that undermine the multilateral trading system, impose unilateral sanctions, manipulate double standards in industrial policies, and disrupt global industrial and supply chains.

The concerns cover 11 areas, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, industrial subsidies, agricultural subsidies, trade remedies, standards and technical regulations, trade in services and intellectual property rights.

Commenting on the report, the MOC said key members of the WTO should play an exemplary role and promote the strengthening of solidarity and cooperation among all parties to jointly safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral trading system.

Liao, also a law school professor at the Beijing Normal University, noted that U.S. measures have severely damaged the common interests of the global business community, hindering the post-pandemic global economic recovery and growth.

Taking the Section 301 tariffs as an example, Liao said they have seriously disrupted normal trade between the business communities of China and the U.S.

Section 301 refers to Sections 301 to 310 under Title III of the Trade Act of 1974, and is fully known as "Relief from Unfair Trade Practices." The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) may impose duties or other import restrictions against foreign countries according to those provisions. Since the enactment of the Trade Act of 1974, the U.S. has initiated 125 investigations under Section 301 against 36 WTO members.

In March 2018, the U.S. imposed Section 301 tariffs ranging from 7.5 percent to 25 percent on around $360 billion of Chinese imports in four batches, significantly exceeding the tariff concession commitments made by the U.S. under the WTO.

Since April 2018, China has requested several consultations on the Section 301 tariff under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. The U.S. failed to demonstrate that the measures were provisionally justified under WTO rules, according to a Panel Report circulated in September 2020.

Liao said the U.S. not only failed to implement the panel's ruling, but also prevented the ruling from taking effect. Moreover, the country also launched a review investigation when the four-year measure was expired, intending to continue the unilateral tariff barrier.

The U.S. has a long history of taking unilateral measures against other members under the guise of "national security," "human rights" and "forced technology transfer," and has also coerced others into abiding by its diplomatic policies and illegitimate demands, the report said.

Laio said the mindset has expanded to the field of investment, with U.S. President Joe Biden signing an executive order on Wednesday to block and regulate high-tech U.S.-based investments going toward China.

Liao hopes that the global business community will join hands to urge the U.S. government to correct its wrong practices and encourage China, the U.S. and other WTO members to work together to uphold an open, transparent, inclusive and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system.

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