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China more adapted to global trade rules
Updated: 2009-08-03 15:08

China is getting more adapted to global trade rules, as exemplified in its recent complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on an anti-dumping dispute with the European Union (EU), a Brussels-based trade expert said on Sunday.

"In the past, China has taken quite a low profile in the international organizations like the WTO. Certainly China is becoming more adapted to the international trading system," Duncan Freeman, a researcher at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, told Xinhua in an interview.

The Chinese government filed a complaint on Friday to the WTO on anti-dumping measures taken by the EU against the import of Chinese iron or steel fasteners, marking the first time that Beijing resorted to the international trade regulator on a trade dispute with the EU, its largest trading partner.

Before that, China had only taken four similar actions at the WTO since the country joined the world trade body in 2001, all of which had been targeted at the United States.

"In many fields, China is learning to use international rules that everybody else used in the past," Freeman said. "It is not surprising that China in the end took the step to use the system in order to protect its interests."

"It is a new departure for the Chinese government to use this means to protect its interests," he added.

Downplaying the possibility that China's move would fuel trade tensions, Freeman said the more active involvement of China in the WTO framework can only contribute to the validity of the global trade system.

"It will enforce the system if all parties to the system make use of it and abide by the decisions of the system when they are made," he said.

Freeman noted that the rare move taken by China against the EU is probably a signal of frustration felt by Beijing over the continuous use of anti-dumping actions against Chinese companies by the 27-nation bloc.

In a statement announcing the complaint on Friday, the Chinese mission to the WTO said in Geneva that China opposes consistently any abuse of anti-dumping actions and the rise of trade protectionism.

According to the Chinese mission, over the past 30 years the EU has carried out more than 140 anti-dumping investigations against Chinese products, becoming one of the most frequent users of anti-dumping measures against China.

As protectionism is on the rise amid the current economic crisis, China is facing a new wave of anti-dumping measures from the EU.

In the latest cases, the EU last week took two separate decisions to impose definitive anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel wire rods and seamless pipes. They are just part of a wider EU trade war against Chinese steel and iron products launched two years ago.

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"It is not only Chinese officials who criticized the EU for abusing anti-demping actions. There are a lot of people within the EU who also believe the same thing. There are European industries exploiting the system to defend their interests," Freeman said.

In the case involving the import of Chinese steel fasteners, China has accused the EU of violating WTO trade rules in the process starting from initiation, investigation and to the final determination.

The EU imposed anti-dumping duties of up to 87 percent on Chinese fasteners over the next five years in January, covering around 200 kinds of fasteners imported from China such as screws and bolts widely used for cars, large household appliances and machinery in the EU.

The value of the imports reached 575 million euros ($819 million) in the EU last year, which makes it one of the biggest EU anti-dumping cases against China.

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