China files WTO complaint against US as trade war escalates again

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/23 22:48:41

US businesses in China will soon ‘become the new target’

China-US trade frictions continue to escalate with the latest round of US tariffs taking effect on Thursday which triggered China's retaliatory measures. The simultaneous moves come amid ongoing consultations between officials from the two sides in Washington.  

Meanwhile, Chinese  experts warn that while China still has some room to further retaliate with dollar-for-dollar tariffs on US goods, it may have to soon target US business activities in China. 

China on Thursday vowed to fight back after the latest round of US tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese goods, according to a statement published by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

MOFCOM also said Thursday that China has filed a complaint with the WTO against the US levies.

"Launching the complaint against the US at the WTO can help China gain legitimacy for its retaliation and win sympathy from other countries," said Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute.

The US used to be the WTO's rule maker, but now it has damaged its own image in the international community by violating those rules, Bai told the Global Times on Thursday.

Trade talks between a Chinese delegation led by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen and a US delegation led by David Malpass, the US Treasury Department's Under Secretary for International Affairs, were still underway in Washington on Thursday local time.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Thursday that "in order to safeguard the multilateral trade system and China's legitimate interests, China has already taken necessary measure to retaliate" against the new round of US tariffs.

Lu said that China hopes the US will take a rational and pragmatic approach and work with China during the current consultations to produce a positive result.

China retaliated with its own fresh tariffs on $16 billion worth of additional products from the US including fuel, steel products, autos and medical equipment.

The levies took effect at the same time the US tariffs were initiated on Thursday, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing an announcement from the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council.

More tariffs to come

In July, the US imposed an initial round of tariff increases on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. On August 1, the US government announced that it would increase import tariffs on a further $200 billion worth of Chinese products.

The US Trade Representative's (USTR) office said in a statement on August 17 that it doubled the length of tariff hearings on the next $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to six days from the previously planned three days due to overwhelming demand from companies wanting to testify.

The hearings will end on Monday.

The USTR hearings are just a show and no matter how many attendees oppose the plan the USTR will ignore their arguments, He Weiwen, a former economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese consulates in San Francisco and New York, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The New York Times reported on Monday that dozens of companies voiced concerns to trade officials during the first days of hearings.

"The tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will very likely take effect just as the previous tranche of tariffs have, and this will determine the future of the China-US trade war," said He Weiwen, noting that the US trade deficit means China will eventually run out of US imports to tax before the US runs off of Chinese goods on which it can impose import tariffs.

"If China wants to retaliate against  the $200 billion worth of tariffs, the targets will not be limited to imported US goods and are very likely to impact US services trade and investment in China, and this will escalate tensions to an even higher level," Bai noted.

Newspaper headline: Trade war escalates again


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