Australia has just got a template to handle China

Another of these practices – the use of trade as a coercive tool for non-trade issues – was also aired last week when the World Trade Organization agreed to investigate China’s tariffs of up to 220 per cent on Australian wine.

These tariffs were imposed (along with others on barley, lobsters, coal and other products), after Australia called for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, banned Huawei from participating in 5G rollout and criticized China’s treatment of the Uighurs and Hong Kong.

China’s unfair and abusive practices and Donald Trump’s misunderstood and MAGA – driven trade wars highlight the extent to which the international trading system based on a philosophy of open markets – a system that helped turbo China’s growth – has collapsed and how inefficient The WTO has remained in police rules.

Other countries, including Britain, Canada and New Zealand, line up as third parties in the dispute, which has essentially wiped out Australian wine exports to China because it encapsulates some of the key criticisms of China’s trade practices.

Last month, the WTO completed a trade policy review of China – as much as an assessment by China’s colleagues as a study conducted by the WTO itself – which found, in contrast to the previous review in 2018 – deep dissatisfaction with China’s behavior.

While the WTO summary was diplomatic (and was seized by China as an endorsement of its policies), the revision provoked scathing criticism from, not only Australia or the United States, but the EU, Japan, Britain and Canada. They accused China of bullying and engaging in practices incompatible with the commitments made by China when it joined the WTO in 2001.

The ban on Australian and Canadian products (in Canada’s case of detention of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou) was described by Canadians as part of a pattern that demonstrated China’s growing willingness to use economic coercion to block or otherwise hinder trade as response to political disagreements. “

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The US charge’s charge at the WTO, David Bisbee, said that expectations when China joined the WTO – that it would dismantle policies and practices incompatible with an international trading system based on open market-oriented policies – had not been realized, and it turned out that China had no tendency to change.

China had used the imprimatur of WTO membership to become the world’s largest trader, while doubling its state-led, non-market approach to trade, he said.

Britain implicitly criticized China for its treatment of the Uighurs and called on the country to ratify the International Labor Organization’s conventions on forced labor. The EU targeted China’s ‘expansive’ use of the concept of national security in its trade policies, while Japan accused it of lacking transparency and distorting global steel markets with its overcapacity. South Korea complained about abuses in trademark registration processes, while India was dissatisfied with China’s barriers to access to the country’s markets for India’s agricultural products.

There were a number of criticisms of China’s self-proclaimed status (permitted under WTO rules) as a developing country, which enables it to require “special and differential treatment” of trade issues in relation to developed economies. This was a particular problem for the Trump administration given China’s prominent place in world trade.

China now says it is willing to be “pragmatic” in its insistence that it is still entitled to claim that status, whatever that means.

China has for decades been accused of flooding world markets with cheap and subsidized products.

China has for decades been accused of flooding world markets with cheap and subsidized products.Credit:Bloomberg

China’s unfair and abusive practices and Donald Trump’s misunderstood and MAGA – driven trade wars highlight the extent to which the international trading system based on a philosophy of open markets – a system that helped turbo China’s growth – has collapsed and how inefficient The WTO has remained in police rules.

However, the US-EU agreement on steel and aluminum, the support for Australia’s complaint to the WTO over the treatment of our wine industry and the depth and breadth of the criticism that China’s trade practices attracted in the WTO review, may provide an insight, or even a example of how China’s behavior can change.

Trump’s tariffs (which have been left behind by Joe Biden) do not work. They harm the United States more than China.

However, there is now a sufficient community of interest and real anxiety among China’s major trading partners across a range of issues – from state aid to the use of access to China’s markets as a weapon in non-trade issues, to human rights violations – to use its own tactics against that.
China can maintain its state-planned and controlled economy and society. It is largely its own business and a business for its own people to decide.

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But if it wants access to the world’s largest markets, then it will, provided the Western key economies could agree on a broad set of rules for engagement with China, whether inside or outside the WTO, it on terms that reflect far more equal and transparent rules of the game for trade and an area where there was no possibility of using market access as a mechanism of coercion in non-trade conditions.

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