Brussels, 13 March 2017 – Applying a "divide and conquer" strategy, China has notified the WTO of its intention to proceed with a panel request only against the EU to be treated as a market economy in anti-dumping procedures, a treatment which would essentially render those measures useless to counteract dumped imports from China.
The panel request contrasts with China's announcement in December 2016 to challenge both the EU and U.S. China now appears to be focusing on what it considers to be the weaker of the two parties, the EU. "Hoping that the EU is not planning a robust defence in Geneva, but already started changing its anti-dumping law, China is separating the EU from the U.S. in the hope of paving the way for further challenges if successful in the EU case and improving its chances of winning against both Europe and the U.S. at the WTO", says Milan Nitzschke, spokesperson for AEGIS Europe.
China's panel request is to be treated in anti-dumping cases equally with functioning market economies. According to WTO rules, EU anti-dumping measures would in general only apply if Chinese prices in Europe fall below domestic prices in China, irrespective if those prices are fixed by the state. Dumping prices for steel, aluminium, solar or ceramics would then be allowed to drop to Chinese levels - mostly below cost of production - without any possible remedy left for EU industry.
“China’s trade strategy is simply astounding, it is like Lance Armstrong suing the Tour de France to reinstate his medals, even though he is a proven doping cheat," Nitzschke points out in an op-ed, published today.
AEGIS Europe, an alliance of nearly 30 European manufacturing associations, calls on EU policy makers to step up their response to China's latest moves. Nitzschke stated: “Instead of rejecting China’s challenge outright and presenting a robust response, the EU has set about redrafting and weakening its anti-dumping legislation. Europe is bowing in to pressure even before any WTO ruling from Geneva clarifies what the EU's obligations actually are."
“The EU must stand firm, aligning itself with the US and other major trading partners, or risk rendering its anti-dumping instrument entirely ineffective against non-market economies like China," urged Mr Nitzschke. “Europe must fight to ensure that its trade defences are not weakened," he said.
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