US taken to WTO over paper dispute

By Jiang Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-09-15 08:43

China has moved the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the United States over its combined countervailing and anti-dumping rulings on Chinese coated paper.

The Chinese delegation to the WTO notified its US counterpart about the complaint on Friday, seeking consultations over the issue, a brief statement on the Ministry of Commerce's website said.

The initiative step to settle a dispute according to WTO rules is the first by China since it joined the global trade body in 2001.

If China and the US fail to reach an agreement through consultations in 60 days, Beijing can ask the WTO to set up a panel to settle the dispute. Such cases can sometimes take a year or even longer to settle.

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) began a countervailing probe into China-made coated paper on November 20, alleging that the Chinese government had unfairly subsidized certain products.

On March 30, the DOC decided to apply duties on some Chinese products, reversing its decades-long policy of not subjecting non-market economies to countervailing probes. The DOC followed up the case by an anti-dumping probe and imposing duties on the same products.

Vice-Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng explained last month that since the US doesn't regard China as a market economy, it uses the costs of a "surrogate country" to decide whether Chinese products sold in the US market are priced unfairly low.

Though Ministry of Commerce officials declined to comment on the case, Gao had said last month that the US violated WTO rules by launching anti-dumping and countervailing investigations against Chinese products, including coated paper.

"Investigations and measures undertaken by the US will lead to double taxation," he said, and such measures run counter to WTO rules.

The US invariably imposes anti-dumping duties on Chinese companies exporting subsidized products. So if countervailing duties are also imposed, it means double taxation.

A researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, Mei Xinyu, said on Friday: "The case that China has filed shows the country is learning to protect its enterprises through multinational rules that it committed to while joining the WTO."

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