From: Global Times
Sino-US economic relations in uncharted water, experts warn
Long Yongtu, former vice minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)
A former Chinese trade official on Monday described US President Donald Trump’s trade policies that would focus on bilateral negotiations as "mission impossible," adding that any bilateral negotiations would still have to abide by the rules of multilateral mechanisms like the WTO.
"Trump is trying to focus on bilateral trade agreements to solve problems in the US, but he forgot one thing: If you seriously violate WTO rules in bilateral negotiations, the other country, no matter how small, wouldn’t agree," Long Yongtu, former vice minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), said at roundtable hosted by the Beijing-based think tank Center for China & Globalization (CCG).
Long said that the WTO mechanism protects the interests of its members, particularly the smaller countries, and Trump’s plan to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with all the countries under the existence of such multilateral rules is "mission impossible."
The Trump administration, in an annual trade policy agenda sent to the US Congress on March 1, indicated that the US will focus on bilateral trade, in line with Trump’s campaign promise, and suggested ignoring WTO rulings that it deems harmful to the US economy.
But unless the US withdraws completely from the WTO, it cannot dictate trade agreements with other countries because that will ignite public anger among WTO members and face tremendous blowback, Long added.
Trump is also facing obstacles in Washington to implement his nationalistic economic policies, according to Huo Jianguo, former president of the Research Institute of the MOFCOM and a non-resident senior fellow at the CCG.
"Trump has showed some restraint recently on trade … and has probably given in to pressure and realizes that things still have to go through conventional procedures," Huo said at the same event.
But Trump still poses challenges and risks for global free trade and the largest bilateral relationship, which is between China and the US, experts concluded at the roundtable.
Wendy Cutler, vice-president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and managing director of the Washington DC office
"Bilateral support and consensus for trade globalization and investment liberalization in the US, it’s just not here now," Wendy Cutler, vice-president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and managing director of the Washington DC office, said.
Cutler said "we are in uncharted water right now." She said while there haven’t been any concrete actions against China, "you will see more anti-dumping, countervailing cases against Chinese imports."
While there is no sign of a full-fledged trade war between China and the US yet, there will be "increased trade disputes," Huo added. And should the US decide to challenge China on a unfair and large scale, China will have tools to respond as well, said Jiang Shan, a non-resident senior fellow at CCG.
"China’s economy is not weak as it was 20 years ago, we are the world’s second-largest economy and we have a lot of ways to respond to the US now," Jiang told the Global Times. (By Wang Cong)
From Global Times，2017-3-13