China says US policies are causing existential damage to the WTO

China did not name the United States in the document, but referred to the block on appointment of WTO appeals judges and"national security" tariffs on aluminium, steel and cars, policies uniquely associated with Washington.
China did not name the United States in the document, but referred to the block on appointment of WTO appeals judges and"national security" tariffs on aluminium, steel and cars, policies uniquely associated with Washington.PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA (REUTERS) – China said on Monday that US policies are threatening the existence of the World Trade Organisation, setting out a string of grievances in a WTO “reform proposal” published by the WTO on its website.

China did not name the United States in the document, but referred to the block on appointment of WTO appeals judges and “national security” tariffs on aluminium, steel and cars, policies uniquely associated with Washington.

The document was posted just as China and the United States ratcheted up their trade war. Beijing said on Monday it would impose higher tariffs on a range of US goods including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas, defying a warning from US President Donald Trump not to retaliate after Washington raised tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese imports.

In the document, China said a “certain member” of the WTO had unilaterally raised trade barriers and imposed import tariffs in an arbitrary way and without authorisation from the WTO.

“The abuse of national security exception, unilateral measures inconsistent with the WTO rules, as well as misuse or abuse of existing trade remedy measures have severely damaged the rules-based, free and open international trade order,” China’s WTO document said.

“Moreover, such practices have adversely affected the interests of the WTO Members, especially the developing Members, and undermined the authority and efficacy of the WTO. As a consequence, the Organisation is facing an unprecedented existential crisis.” China said the WTO was not impeccable but it was the most desirable channel for liberalising and facilitating trade and investment on a global scale.

It said reform should cover four areas of concrete action, including “resolving the crucial and urgent issues threatening the existence of the WTO"; increasing its relevance in global economic governance; improving its operational efficiency and enhancing the inclusiveness of the multilateral trading system.