The world trade organisation on Friday allowed China to impose sanctions on $3.6bn worth of us goods in a battle over dumping Chinese goods, a decision likely to further antagonise the trump administration against the global trade body.
It is the final ruling on a case China filed nearly six years ago against the United States over the imposition of tariffs on more than 40 Chinese goods. The tariffs were imposed during the Obama administration, but their attempts to curb behavior remain one of the trump administration's biggest economic concerns about China.
At issue is U.S. accusations that China subsidizes its own companies so they can sell goods more cheaply overseas. To stop dozens of low-cost Chinese products flooding the us market -- including solar panels, furniture, shrimp, steel pipes, tires and washing machines -- the us imposed "anti-dumping duties" on them.
A world trade organization (wto) decision in 2017 showed that the way the U.S. imposes taxes is inconsistent with the global trade organization's rules. On Friday, the world trade organization gave China the green light to recoup some of its losses by imposing tariffs on $3.6 billion worth of U.S. exports to China.
China has not indicated which American products it will impose tariffs on, nor is it clear whether the United States will retaliate. Under world trade organization rules, China can keep its tariffs unchanged until the United States changes its behavior or the two countries agree to some kind of solution.
A trump administration official said the United States was disappointed by the decision, saying it overstated the economic impact on China and that the methods it used were "not based on economic analysis." He also said the U.S. has no plans to change practices opposed by the world trade organization, including how to determine the level of tariffs on Chinese goods. That means any tariffs imposed by China could remain unchanged indefinitely.
The case is not part of President trump's trade war with China, which is fought outside world trade organization rules and has led to tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods.
But the outcome could further complicate relations between the world's two largest economies as the two sides try to reach a deal to end a year-long trade war. China has retaliated by imposing tariffs on about $100 billion worth of American goods. Mr. Trump did not rule out further tariff increases if Beijing did not agree to the administration's demands. Both sides have suffered economically from tit-for-tat tariffs.
Beijing could use the threat of these tariffs as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations. But because it imports far fewer American goods than it exports to the United States, China has been reluctant to raise its tariffs, which could increase the cost of necessities like medical equipment and food.
We do not believe the arbitration decision will have any impact on the ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and China, the trump administration official said.
The ruling could have a bigger impact on the future of the world trade organisation. The U.S. government has criticized the global trade group, including its inability to write rules to prevent China from subsidizing its industries handsomely.
China has built a vast industry of steel, aluminium, solar panels and other products, partly by exploiting state-owned enterprises. These industries flooded the global market with low-cost products and forced out American competitors. U.S. officials say the country is threatening to do the same in emerging industries such as new energy vehicles and semiconductors. But the wto defines subsidies narrowly, for example by excluding cheap inputs from Chinese state-owned enterprises.
Clite Willems, a partner at the law firm Akin Gump who left the White House earlier this year, said the ruling highlighted some of the administration's primary concerns about the wto -- its failure to address the government's role in the Chinese economy.
今年早些时候从白宫离职的艾金·岗波律师事务所(Akin Gump)的合伙人克莱特·威廉斯(Clite Willems)说，这一裁决突显出美国政府对世界贸易组织最主要的一些忧虑——它未能正视政府在中国经济中扮演的角色。
As a result, China gets away with activities that would not be allowed in any normal market economy, Williams said. "This ruling weakens our ability to fight subsidies from Chinese state-owned enterprises."
The trump administration has welcomed other wto rulings in favor of the United States, including a ruling earlier this week on objections to an Indian export subsidy and a ruling in early October that allowed the United States to retaliate against European Union subsidies to Airbus, the aircraft maker.
But governments are also attacking other WTO functions, particularly the part of the system that mediates trade disputes to a tipping point.
The trump administration has been blocking new appointments to the world trade organization's body for litigation on trade disputes, saying it is trying to persuade the body to make certain changes. From Dec. 10, the so-called appellate body will no longer have enough members to hear cases, leaving some trade disputes undecided.
Trump administration officials have said privately that the closure of the appellate body would not cause much damage. But others disagree. The worry, says Jennifer Hillman, a former member of the wto's appellate body and an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, is that countries could start going their own way.
特朗普政府官员私下表示，上诉机构的关闭不会造成太大损失。但其他人并不同意这种观点。前世界贸易组织上诉机构成员、外交关系委员会(Council on Foreign Relations)专家詹妮弗·希尔曼(Jennifer Hillman)表示，人们担心的是，各国可能会开始自行其是。
If countries abandon the world trade organization system and impose tariffs on each other regardless of global trade rules, this increases the risk of destructive trade wars and protectionism, which puts pressure on economies.
You immediately have this crisis of how to deal with all these pending appeals that are never going to be resolved, and whether the parties to the appeal are going to start acting unilaterally, Mr. Hillman said.