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China calls US “destroyer“ of global trading system at WTO


Li Chenggang, China?s Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), gestures during an interview with Reuters aside of a ministerial meeting to discuss a draft agreement on curbing subsidies for the fisheries industry in Geneva, Switzerland, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

China accused Washington on Wednesday of using subsidies to prop up national industries and refusing to abide by the rules of the World Trade Organization.

China’s ambassador to the WTO Li Chenggang said in a speech that he was disappointed in the U.S. trading record, saying it had not lived up to President Joe Biden’s inaugural pledge to lead “by the power of our example”.

“The United States puts ‘America First’ by prevailing its domestic laws over international rules and (the) laws of others, disregarding WTO rules and concerns of other members,” he told a closed-door U.S. trade policy review at the Geneva-based WTO.

“Clearly, the United States is a destroyer to the multilateral trading system,” he added, according to the text of his speech which was released in English by China’s WTO delegation.

The U.S. ambassador to the WTO, Maria Pagán, defended U.S. policies, saying it was one of the most open and competitive economies in the world with some of the lowest tariffs. “For many decades, the United States has led by maintaining a fundamentally open economy,” she said.

The U.S. trade policy review occurs every few years and allows members of the 164-member body to give feedback on Washington’s track record.

China’s remarks came days after it filed a WTO trade complaint against U.S. curbs on chip exports.

The United States has previously said China’s industrial policies were skewed against imported goods and services. It has also called on the world’s second-largest economy to carry out further liberalisation and open its vast markets.

The WTO’s system for settling global trade disputes has been only partially functional since Dec. 2019 when Washington’s repeated blockage of judge appointments under former President Donald Trump paralysed its top court. That means that any member, including the United States, can and has appealed decisions made by a lower court into a legal limbo.

Ambassador Li called Washington a “capricious rule-breaker” for not implementing rulings. The U.S. has repeatedly criticised the WTO dispute settlement system for overreach and is currently leading a consultation process with members on how to reform it.