US trade policy criticized at WTO meeting
( www.wto.org) The US Trade Policy Review reported to the World Trade Organization on November 12, 2018 caused alarm around the world. In the report, the US announced a new trade policy that is against the principles of the World Trade Organization WHO), which is ironic when you think the US was the one that pushed countries around the world to join the newly formed organization in 1995.
This new policy rests on five major pillars: supporting US national security, strengthening the US economy, negotiating better trade deals, aggressive enforcement of US trade laws and reforming the multilateral trading system, all in line with President Trump’s America First vision.
Marс Vanheukelen, the EU ambassador to the WTO criticized Washington's tariffs and protectionist trade policy. He called the US the “epicenter” of the crisis in the multilateral trading system when discussing this 14th Trade Policy Review of the United States on Monday, December 17, as he was addressing the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting to review US trade policies. He also decried limitations on the US procurement market, in particular through “Buy American” legislation.
Ambassador Vanheukelen continued by saying the US has been at the forefront of blaming the WTO for mishaps, complaining that it treats America unfairly in global trade. The US has even threatened to pull out of the organization. In apparent response to US President Donald Trump’s calls to reform the WTO, Mr Vanheukelen urged Washington to engage in talks on concrete proposals.
China and the European Union (EU), along with other members of the WTO, have also accused the United States of imposing protectionist trade measures and paralyzing the WTO by blocking new appointments to its dispute settlement mechanism, the Appellate Body.
During the 14th Trade Policy Review of the United States that started Monday, China's Ambassador to the WTO Zhang Xiangchen said, "It is ... unfortunate what we are seeing since the last trade policy review, especially during the past year, as a different America has emerged with severely mismatched power and responsibility."
Recalling the additional tariff measures applied since the beginning of this year by Washington on steel and aluminum, Zhang said that the measures allow "protectionism to be at large" under the pretext of national security, and these "bring back to life the ghost of unilateralism that has been dormant for decades."
Zhang also criticized the blocking of the selection of WTO Appellate Body members, warning that this "practically upends the crown-jewel of the multilateral trading system."
China hopes to work with all members of the organization, including the United States, to push for necessary reforms at the WTO through consultations "on equal grounds," to make the organization "up-to-date with the realities, adaptable to the developments of economic globalization and responsive to the expectations of the global business community," he said.
EU Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen to the WTO warned that "the multilateral trading system is in a deep crisis, and the United States is at its epicenter."
Harm to the independence of adjudicators will not lead to reform, but rather to a collapse of the multilateral trading system that has benefited us all, the EU ambassador said.
The Appellate Body functions as the WTO's de facto court of appeals and is composed of seven members. However, only three of the seven members are in office since the United States has refused to initiate the process to fill vacancies.
On this same occasion, a Japanese representative said that Japan "deeply regrets" the national security measures on steel and aluminum, as such actions disrupt the global market and have a negative impact on the multilateral trading system.
Trade policy reviews, in which WTO members' trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals, aim to increase the transparency of the members' trade policies.