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China lashes out at US trade policies
Updated: 2004-03-15 16:04

China accused the United States of having excessively protectionist trade policies and said the country was failing to conform to the spirit and agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The criticisms are contained in China's first ever report, commissioned by the Ministry of Commerce, assessing U.S. trade policy.

Its publication Friday comes only a day after the United States threatened to take action at the WTO against China for allegedly not complying with global trade rules and adopting discriminatory tax policies.

"Amid a sluggish economy and the growing trade deficit, protectionist tendencies have clearly got stronger in U.S. trade policies, while its enthusiasm to solve disputes multilaterally has clearly waned," said the report.

It cited safeguard measures for the steel industry, as well as a new agricultural subsidy act, as having "abused and breached WTO rules.

"The United States has stepped up trade protection in domestic legislation by taking advantage of opaque WTO rules in some aspects. The problem has concerned many WTO members but remains unresolved," the report said.

The United States has imposed a raft of trade restrictions against China in recent months and regularly complains about China not fully implementing its commitments since it joined the WTO in 2001.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick rammed the point home again Thursday, saying that while some of the compliance problems faced by China were initially viewed as "growing pains", China must do more to ensure it lives up to its obligations in the global trade body.

"Without more progress on matters we have been pressing with China, we will certainly need to avail ourselves of our rights under the WTO," he warned in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives.

Zoellick also said the United States would use "special safeguards," such as anti-dumping provisions, on textiles from China if China fell short in its trade commitments.

In the Ministry of Commerce report, China said U.S. anti-dumping provisions "often contradict the principle of objectiveness and fairness".

According to the China-U.S. agreement on China's accession to the WTO, the United States can treat China as a non-market economy -- where the state plays a dominant role -- for 15 years but China argued that this was no longer relevant.

"Although China's market system remains less mature than the United States, it has already outpaced many countries deemed by the United States as 'market economies' in terms of size, order and market potential," the report said.

"Under these circumstances, labelling China a non-market economy will inevitably make China suffer unfair treatment and is against the WTO's principle of fair play."

It also bemoaned non-economic factors influencing Sino-U.S. trade.

"For example, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organisations often lobby Congress and government agencies to sanction China over so-called human rights problems," it said.

Another area highlighted was U.S. limits on exports of military products.

"Political factors have seriously clouded the outlook of entrepreneurs in both China and the United States and is not good for (the) long-term investment and trade partnership between the two countries," said the report.

China has become the third-largest U.S. trading partner since it joined the WTO in 2001.

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