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Time for 'reckoning' over China's WTO membership: US

AFP  |  Geneva 

The war between the world's top two economies landed at the Organization today, as the demanded a "reckoning" over China's membership in the body.

China's WTO "policy review" -- scheduled before lit the fuse on a tariff battle with -- served as a new front in the widening economic confrontation between the two powers.

In a report submitted ahead of the three day review, insisted it had "been a for free trade" since joining the WTO in 2001 and "comprehensively fulfilled its commitments."

US Dennis Shea, who was among the first to speak at the closed-door review, argued that had exploited its membership to take advantage of other nations and that if unchecked Beijing's misconduct would ruin the WTO.

"China's failure to fully embrace the open, market-oriented policies on which this institution is founded must be addressed, either within the WTO or outside the WTO," Shea said according to prepared remarks released by the "This reckoning can no longer be put off," he added.

"If the WTO is to remain relevant to the international trading system, change is necessary."

The comments came after threatened fresh tariffs on another USD 200 billion in Chinese goods and vowed to retaliate, the latest salvo in the escalating tariff battle.

China's compliance with WTO guidelines lies at the heart of the conflict, notably over Beijing's alleged state support for purportedly private companies. "provides massive, market-distorting subsidies and other forms of state support to its domestic industries," Shea said.

He noted that while WTO rules permit some government support for national industries under specific circumstances, the Chinese approach results in "skewing the playing field against imported goods".

Trump, who has reportedly weighed quitting the 164-member WTO, has voiced particular irritation over the fact that China continues to self-identify as a developing nation.

In an April post, Trump said this allowed China to "get tremendous perks and advantages, especially over the US. Does anybody think this is fair. "We were badly represented. The WTO is unfair to US," he added.

In its policy agenda released in January, the US trade office said the WTO needed to change its "self-declare" policy for developing nations to stop major economies like China and from getting the preferential treatment that should be reserved for the world's poorest nations.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, July 11 2018. 21:40 IST