Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul18/05)
9 July 2018
Third World Network
China urges members to join fight against US unilateralism
Published in SUNS #8716 dated 6 July 2018
Geneva, 5 Jul (D. Ravi Kanth) - China urged members of the World Trade
Organization on Tuesday (3 July) "to join" its efforts "in
firmly fighting against the United States" over its flagrant
violation of global trade rules, negotiators told SUNS.
Inveighing against Washington's escalating unilateral measures under
the US section 232 provisions and the punitive duties on Chinese products
under Section 301 provisions, China said: "It is willing to continue
to take concrete actions to safeguard the authority of WTO."
"We would also call on the whole Membership [of the WTO] to join
us in firmly fighting against unilateralism and protectionism,"
a Chinese official told his counterparts at a meeting of the WTO's
Council for Trade in Goods (CTG) on Tuesday (3 July).
"The acts of the United States are a severe violation of the
fundamental principles of the WTO, which would seriously damage the
multilateral trading system and destruct the global trade order,"
the Chinese official said, according to several participants present
at the meeting.
"History tells us that if the unilateralism is unrestrained,
it would bring destruction to the world economy and all members, especially
the developing country members," China said.
Mocking the US about its sudden unilateral actions, China said "at
this moment, we cannot be certain who and what product would be the
next target of the US unilateralism."
"But we can be sure that if the WTO members are not able to fight
and control the current unilateralism and protectionism, the whole
WTO membership including the United States would be the victims,"
Urging the US to "respect both facts and rules," China said
it would take " all necessary measures to fight against the unilateral
acts and defend its legitimate rights and interests under the multilateral
Many developing countries and several developed countries joined China
in opposing the US measures on steel and aluminum as well as the proposed
measures on automobiles, arguing that these have severely undermined
the multilateral trading system.
In a scathing statement, China dismissed the US claims that the punitive
duties imposed on steel and aluminum and the proposed duties on automobile
products are for safeguarding US national security.
"The US section 232 measures on products that are "civilian"
in nature are actually adopted to protect the commercial interests
of its domestic interests."
"Therefore, these are purely trade protectionist measures under
the disguise of "national security" and will seriously undermine
the multilateral trading system," a Chinese official told the
China and six other countries - the European Union, India, Canada,
Mexico, Norway, and the Russian Federation - have now invoked dispute
settlement proceedings against the US on additional duties of 25%
on steel and 10% on aluminum under Section 232 provisions of US trade
The Chinese official citied statements made by Mr Peter Navarro, the
Director of the US White House National Trade Council, who had said
that "(a)ny country , ... which [is] exempted from the tariffs,
will have a quota and other restrictions."
China asked the US to clarify whether the statement is true and whether
the US has now reached any agreements on quota or any form of "voluntary
export restriction" with the members who are exempt from the
section 232 measures.
Expressing "grave concerns" over the Section 232 investigations
on imports of automobiles on 23 May, China said "automobiles
and parts and components thereof imported by the US are mostly products
for civilian purposes and [by] no means involve "national security"."
China said "the frequent initiations by the United States of
investigations under section 232 are obviously protectionist under
the disguise of "national security", and will significantly
distort the global market and value chain."
Commenting on the US Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer's
decision to impose an additional duty of 25 percent on US$50 billion
worth of Chinese imports under so-called Section 301 provisions of
the US Trade Act, China said the US measures "are purely unilateral
actions which are inherently incompatible with the multilateral trading
The US will collect additional duties on US$34 billion of Chinese
goods from Friday (6 July) and review the rest of the $16 billion
through public notice and comment process.
The US has also threatened to impose additional duties on another
US$200 billion worth of products from China.
The US, however, objected to China's statement on US Section 301,
arguing that it is not part of the CTG agenda, said a participant
after the meeting.
On US Section 232 measures on steel and aluminum, the US said the
issue is already under dispute settlement proceedings.
But more than 40 countries chided the US for imposing additional duties
on steel and aluminum and Washington's move to impose duties on automobiles
and auto parts.
Japan and Russia had included the Section 232 measures in the CTG
The EU said the proposed measures to restrict the import of cars,
car parts, and light trucks on grounds of national security provisions
are unjustifiable as there is no economic threat to the US automobile
Meanwhile, in a statement issued at the German Bundestag on Wednesday
(4 July), German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the Trump administration
that hitting auto imports with new tariffs would have dire consequences.
"We now have tariffs on aluminum and steel and we have a discussion
that is far more serious," she said, according to the CNN.
"This is taking on the contours of a trade conflict - I don't
want to use words that go any further. It's worth every effort to
try and defuse this so that this conflict does not become a war,"
"President Donald Trump has threatened to place a 20% tariff
on all European cars coming to the United States if the European Union
doesn't remove its own trade barriers," according to Washington
Trade Daily of 5 July.
"Targeting cars would dramatically raise the stakes in the spat
between Europe and its biggest trading partner. EU-US trade in goods
and services is worth more than $1.2 trillion each year," the
In short, it is a defining moment for the WTO members whether they
can all join hands against the US to curb its unilateral actions or
allow Washington to assume the dangerous face of what the world witnessed
in the run-up to the Second World War following the unilateral actions
of a former German chancellor.