China has submitted a case to the World Trade Organization seeking fair treatment, after the United States rejected the nation’s demand to be treated as a market economy under global trading rules, the Ministry of Commerce announced on Dec 7.
The US recently launched a number of trade remedy investigations into Chinese goods, which has had negative implications for companies in both countries, particularly for US firms that are eager to either work with local partners or enlarge their presence in China, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said.
“Adopting trade-protectionist measures will not be effective or sustainable to develop healthy business ties between the two countries, and China expects the US to adopt adequate measures to ensure its companies’ interests,” Gao said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
China filed a WTO dispute case over the surrogate country approach last year, arguing the approach should be dropped after the expiration date on Dec 11, 2016, in accordance with Article 15 of the accession protocol.
“The case has nothing to do with whether China has been granted market economy status or not, as there are no standards in the WTO rules for the status,” said Xue Rongjiu, deputy director of the Beijing-based China Society for WTO Studies.
“It is about ‘surrogate country approach’, not ‘market economy status’, which means the former is within multilateral trade rules, while the latter is regarded as a domestic law issue,” Xue added.
So far, more than 80 economies — including Australia, Brazil, Russia and Switzerland — have recognized China as a market economy.
Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a major government think tank, said the US practice mixes two issues together, contradicts multilateral trade rules and breaks some countries’ international commitments and promises.
It is clear that such behavior is a US-planned attempt to protect its trade with China, Wei said.
Trade volume between China and the US amounted to 3.21 trillion yuan ($485 billion) from January through October, up 17.2 percent year-on-year. Bilateral investment also surged, exceeding $170 billion by the end of 2016, data from the Ministry of Commerce show.
On Dec 7, the ministry also announced that China and Canada have almost completed feasibility studies on a free trade agreement after more than a year of talks.
Gao said a free trade deal with Canada would be beneficial to both sides as their trade contents are fairly complementary.