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Reform should reinforce primary purpose of WTO: China Daily editorial/Amy

Writer:chinadailySource:chinadaily Date:2018-12-14

In a sign of the escalating tensions between the United States and its major trading partners, the World Trade Organization agreed on Wednesday to hear complaints from the European Union and countries such as China, Canada and Mexico over new US steel and aluminum tariffs — imposed on national security grounds — as well as complaints from Washington over retaliatory duties.

And in a thinly veiled warning to the world trade body, the US delegation said any review of its measures taken for national security reasons would undermine the "legitimacy" and "even the viability of the WTO as a whole".

Such is the tough stance as adopted by the White House, which has blocked judicial appointments to the WTO, that it risks paralyzing its system of trade dispute settlement. The US has even threatened to quit the WTO if it does not "shape up".

No one questions that the WTO urgently needs to reform. Twenty-three years after it was founded, the world body that sets the rules governing global trade is facing multiple challenges that range from improving its dispute settlement system, and cutting agricultural subsidies to increasing market access.

But if the US wants to turn the WTO into a tool for it to meet its own particular needs in the name of reform, or even use it to "put China in a tailor-made straitjacket of trade rules" to constrain its growth — as China's ambassador to the WTO Zhang Xiangchen said — it will definitely fail.

Washington has shown it is willing to pay no heed to international rules it perceives as not serving its own interests, while brazenly accusing China of breaking WTO rules.

In fact, as the world's largest trader, China is shouldering the responsibility of safeguarding the rules-based system and it is holding the banner for WTO reforms, which it hopes can make the world body function more effectively.

The WTO, including its dispute settlement system, was not set up, as US President Donald Trump has claimed, "for the benefit of taking advantage of the United States". It was set up to facilitate global trade.

And as China says, reform of the WTO does not mean reinventing the wheel, nor is it an excuse for not implementing the rules.

The aim should be to strengthen the authoritativeness and leadership of the WTO in the multilateral trading system, so it can rein in protectionism and better promote free trade and economic globalization.

TypeInfo: Industry News

Keywords for the information:tool steel steel industry WTO