China urges US to correct wrongdoings as WTO rules steel, aluminum tariffs violate its principles
Washington should abandon unilateralism, protectionism: experts
Published: Dec 11, 2022 07:57 PM Updated: Dec 11, 2022 07:53 PM
A sign of the WTO on its headquarters in Geneva Photo: VCG

A sign of the WTO on its headquarters in Geneva Photo: VCG

China has urged the US to correct its wrongdoings, and work with China and other WTO members to jointly safeguard the multilateral trading system, as the US showed defiance over a new WTO ruling saying that the US' Section 232 tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products were in breach of WTO rules.

Chinese experts said the US' selfish and arrogant attitude is further proof that the Biden administration has not abandoned the "America First" policy and is pursuing unilateralism and protectionism, which has seriously disrupted the functioning of the global trading system. They called on other countries to pay attention to the US' destructive attempts and put tariffs on US exports if the US refuses to comply with the WTO ruling.

The WTO ruled on Friday that the 25 percent taxes on global steel imports and 10 percent import tariffs on aluminum imposed under former US president Donald Trump on so-called national security grounds violate WTO rules, a WTO dispute settlement panel ruled.

However, US news website Politico reported that the Biden administration "strongly condemned" the WTO ruling, and claimed that it would not remove the tariffs that Trump imposed. "The US strongly rejects the flawed interpretation and conclusions in the WTO Panel reports," said spokesperson of the US Trade Representative's office Adam Hodge.

On Saturday, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM) criticized the US' unilateral and protectionist practices, saying that they caused serious damage to the rules-based multilateral trading system. These actions are not only opposed by many WTO members but are widely criticized within the US, the spokesperson said, noting that the WTO security exception clauses are not a "haven" for unilateralism and protectionism.

"China hopes the US side will respect the ruling of the WTO expert panel, follow the WTO rules, and correct its wrongdoings as soon as possible, and work with China and other WTO members to jointly safeguard the multilateral trading system," the MOFCOM spokesperson said.

The US has maintained tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from certain WTO members in the name of "national security" since 2018, including China. Last week, Western media outlets reported that the Biden administration may take a fresh move to impose new tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum on the grounds of "tackling climate challenges".

"While the US claims that Chinese exports threaten its 'national security' and affect the US market, it hasn't yet given sufficient proof. The US adopts an 'America First' policy and puts domestic laws over international laws to maintain its hegemony. It is the biggest challenge to the global trading system," Huo Jianguo, vice president of the China Institute for World Trade Organization Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

A WTO dispute settlement report identified the US as the biggest rule-breaker, responsible for two-thirds of violations of WTO rules. The US has also blocked the appointment of new judges in the WTO Appellate Body, leading to an impasse in the Appellate Body since December 2019.

By randomly launching investigations into imports on a variety of excuses, the US constantly challenges WTO rules and the multilateral trading order, Li Yong, senior fellow at the China Association of International Trade, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Rather than contributing to the global economy as a responsible large country amid growing headwinds, the US continues to make selfish and arrogant moves at the expense of global economic development," Li said.

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF downgraded the forecast for global economic growth to 2.7 percent in 2023, the weakest growth profile since 2001 except for the global financial crisis and the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting more countries to focus on economic recovery.

Amid growing threats to the global economy, G20 leaders reaffirmed in a declaration at the end of the G20 Summit in Bali that the rules-based, non-discriminatory, free, fair, open, inclusive, equitable, sustainable and transparent multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core, is indispensable to advancing their shared objectives.

In contrast to the US' destructive behavior, China has faithfully delivered on its commitments made upon accession to the WTO. In October 2021, a WTO report fully recognized China's efforts in upholding the multilateral trading system and its active role in the WTO, speaking highly of China's achievements in trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, greater opening-up and progress under the Belt and Road Initiative.

"According to WTO rules, if the US refuses to comply with the ruling, countries that lodged appeals have the right to impose punitive tariffs on US products," Huo said.