Latest U.S. WTO Case against China Challenges Duties on American Cars

Judging by the sheer quantity of World Trade Organization (WTO) cases brought against the country by the U.S., China appears to be in no hurry to fix its image as a trade rule scofflaw.

The latest in a series of WTO cases, brought by the Obama Administration last Thursday, seeks dispute settlement consultations with China due to the country's imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on more than $3 billion in exports of American-made automobiles.

"As we have made clear, the Obama Administration will continue to fight to ensure that China does not misuse its trade laws and violate its international trade commitments to block exports of American-made products," said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. "American auto workers and manufacturers deserve a level playing field and we are taking every step necessary to stand up for them. This is the third time that the Obama Administration has challenged China's misuse of trade remedies."

For its part, the Obama Administration has continued to hold China accountable to its commitments as a WTO member. In two prior cases, the U.S. challenged duties that China imposed to restrict imports of certain steel products and chicken products from the U.S. Several other actions have been brought against China's export restraints on several industrial raw materials, China's restrictions on electronic payment services and subsidies to China's wind power equipment sector.

"In each of these matters, the key principle at stake is that China must play by the rules to which it agreed when it joined the WTO," said Kirk's office in a statement. "Those commitments include maintaining open markets on a non-discriminatory basis, and following internationally-agreed procedures in a transparent way."

The consultations requested last week represent the first step in a WTO dispute. If, after 60 days, the matter remains unresolved, then complainants may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel.

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-Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer

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