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Commentary: US-initiated trade war damages international rules

By Wu Qiuyu (People's Daily Online)    16:57, August 13, 2018

Washington is on one hand waving the tariff stick to pressure and blackmail China, while on the other hand threatening to withdraw from international groups in pursuit of its own interests. Like a bull on rage, today’s Uncle Sam is trampling upon international rules and damaging the current global trade system and economic globalization.

The White House unreasonably requested China to reduce hundreds of billions of US dollars of trade deficits, despite of the truth that China is seeing a large decline in the ratio of the current account surplus in its GDP and continuing to expand openness and lower tariffs. China has already become a market economy, but the US ignored the fact and even declared that China’s countermeasures are unreasonable.

The US also made troubles within the World Trade Organization (WTO), saying it has been treated unequally and suffering losses in global trade. It even threatened to quit the organization.

What the US did has cast shadow on the international trade, and its practices revealed the country’s philosophy to exploit what’s useful and abandon the rest.

In recent years, the US has privatized international rules and did whatever it wanted in an arbitrary manner. The country, for instance, changed and upgraded global trade and investment rules just to protect its own core competitiveness.

In addition, it raised thresholds in intellectual property, investor-country dispute settlement, and trade services to tailor for its own profits, and made more self-oriented international trade rules to keep its advantages and guarantee that the development of global economic governance still serves American interests.

Let’s just say that the US acquired these favorable conditions and advantages through multilateral negotiations under the current international economic and trade orders, but the “American first” strategy is totally going against the global trade rules.

The so-called “America first” is nothing but merely egoism, as well as supremacy-supported bully practice that challenges multilateral cooperation and global rules. The proposal of the “America first” is the start of the US violation of international rules.

In a word, the strategy aims to abandon current rules and put domestic laws above international laws, which means the US can replace global trade dispute settlement mechanism with unilateral move.

It is especially obvious in economy and trade. By withdrawing from Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, renegotiating on the North American Free Trade Agreement, and initiating the Section 201, 232 and 301 investigations, the US is forcing its trade partners to sacrifice themselves just to “make America great again”.

Such concept, which is seemingly maximizing US interests, will only weaken the leadership and influence of the US in the international community, and fail to solve the problems of the country. It will also slow the world economy.

US international trade expert Steve Suranovic once warned that the international rules are on the edge of collapse and the common interests would disappear if other countries stop cooperating with the US, and the “America first” may devolve into “everyone last”.

Driven by the “America first” strategy, the former initiator, designer, and advocate for international rules has now become a total breaker, objector and subverter. Such turnabout is not arbitrariness, but supremacy.

According to incomplete statistics, the Trump administration launched 94 investigations into alleged unfair trading practices from dozens of countries over the past year, up 81 percent year on year.

The report on WTO dispute adjudication also indicated that the US is so far the largest rule breaker which was involved in 2/3 of the violations the multilateral body has ever seen.

In addition, the US also held hostage the nomination of the WTO appellate body, leading to a breakdown of dispute-settlement mechanism and endangering the multilateral trading system.

From a historical perspective, economic globalization is an objective demand for social productivity development and a natural result of scientific innovation. It is injecting strong impetus to global economic growth, promoting the flow of goods and capital, and accelerating the progress of technology and civilization. Each economy has been more or less integrated into the global industrial and value chains, depending on each other.

The current multilateral economic and trade rules serve as a foundation for global trade. The cake of global wealth growth will be made bigger if each party abides the rules, otherwise the prosperity and development of the world will be hurt.

The repeated mistakes of the US unilateral practices are the largest threat against the global industrial chain and value chain, and are being resisted and condemned by more and more countries.

Without the international rules, the US will not only fail to achieve the so-called “America first”, but also make the world go back to a state of isolation and destroy the hard-won process of globalization. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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