“China has rather retained and expanded its statist, non-market approach to economy and trade. It is clear that by pursuing this approach, China’s policies and practices undermine the premises of WTO rules and cause serious harm to workers and businesses around the world, especially in industries targeted by the China’s industrial plans.
Little appetite for a trade dispute
Australia, which has been on the front line of China’s trade coercion and now has two disputes with Beijing at the WTO, is watching the Biden administration’s approach closely. Trade experts said while the document reinforced Washington’s previous attacks on China’s trade policies, it offered no new strategy to address its concerns.
“It essentially declares China ‘Trade Enemy No. 1’ of the United States and promises a lot of sticks and no carrots,” said Jeffrey Wilson, director of the Perth USAsia Center at the University of Western Australia. “While the Biden administration keeps Trump tariffs, the reality is that the United States is doing as much damage to the global trading system as China.”
Dr Wilson said few of Washington’s allies, apart from Australia, had an appetite for a trade dispute with China.
China has so far failed to meet commitments to buy an additional US$200 billion ($279 billion) of US goods and services in 2020 and 2021 under the signed phase one trade deal. by former President Donald Trump.
The report says the United States is still working to ensure China meets these commitments and will continue to pursue bilateral engagement with China to find “areas where progress can be made.”
“The United States is ready to strategically use the tools of internal trade. It is also clear that existing trade tools need to be strengthened and new trade tools need to be forged,” he said, without specifying whether he would impose tariffs on Chinese goods as the government did. Trump administration.
Work with like-minded partners
He also said Washington would work more closely with like-minded allies and trading partners. He did not mention Australia by name, but senior Biden administration officials have previously said the United States will stand with Australia to defend against trade coercion from China, even whether these restrictions have helped some US exports to China.
“As part of this effort, the United States continues to work directly with like-minded trading partners outside of a multilateral organization context in pursuit of new initiatives to explore strategies to address the unique challenges posed. by non-market policies and practices,” the report said, citing the Trade and Technology Council established between the United States and the European Union.
“The United States is also leading discussions with many other like-minded trading partners, including in the Indo-Pacific region, on how to strengthen our existing commercial relationships.”
This would involve cooperating to diversify international suppliers and reduce the risk of geographic concentration, particularly in China, which could lead to shortages of key products. It would also work with allies to make critical supply chains less vulnerable.
The report highlights restrictions imposed by China on Australian beef, barley, wine, coal, cotton, timber and lobster in response to the Morrison government’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.
Australia, the United States and other countries have consistently accused China of undermining the rules-based global trading system through the use of industrial subsidies and other practices. China joined the WTO 20 years ago.
The United States has also long argued that China receives easier treatment at the WTO because of its status as a developing country.
Last month, the EU lent its support to Lithuania in the Baltic country’s confrontation with Beijing over Taiwan, launching a case at the WTO over China’s heavy-handed trade tactics.
Brussels has accused China of refusing to clear Lithuanian goods, rejecting import requests and pressuring other European companies to cut Lithuanian companies from their supply chains – which has affected businesses across the bloc.