China-US trade spat is of multilateral nature not bilateral: Pascal Lamy

By Xie Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/12 21:27:05

Pascal Lamy, former WTO chief Photo: Courtesy of China Europe International Business School

US President Donald Trump is "wrong on everything about trade" except the fact that global trade rules need to be updated, former director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Pascal Lamy said.

"I think he is wrong to use tariffs (as punishment tools). There are other ways [to solve trade problems] like convening people around the negotiating table," Lamy, also a distinguished professor at the China Europe International Business School, said during an interview with the Global Times on Tuesday.

His comments came about half a month after the US and China reached a temporary 90-day truce in their months-long trade dispute to provide for more negotiations.

This has been considered by the market as a kind of a turnaround in the two countries' tit-for-tat tariffs on each other, with Chinese A-shares jumping in response.

But the US has also been causing new friction with China in recent days, such as inciting Canada to arrest the CFO of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

But he also insisted that international trade is generally more open than it was in the past, and he remained optimistic that despite the pushback on open trade and anti-globalization headwinds, there will be no widespread move away from globalization.

"The problem of protectionism is mostly with Trump...he was wrong in the first place. As Trump started imposing tariffs on other countries, others would [have to] retaliate in order to stop him from doing so," Lamy commented, adding that it's too soon to predict the results of the trade negotiations between China and the US during the 90-day truce.

"I don't think the problem or the solution lies in bilateral trade deficits [between China and the US]. I think the right table to discuss and deal with this issue is the multilateral table," he said.

In the first 11 months of this year, China imported $144.6 billion worth of goods from the US, up by 5 percent on a yearly basis, while it exported $438 billion in goods, up by 12.9 percent year-on-year.

Lamy also stressed that it's unfair to say that China hasn't fulfilled its commitment to the WTO as the US has complained, but the current rules of the WTO don't always fit with China's economy. Therefore, he said, some WTO rules like those on subsidies could be reformed.


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