WTO to settle US-China row over export subsidies

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GENEVA: The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed on Wednesday to create a panel of experts to study a US complaint over alleged Chinese export subsidies to a range of industries.

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Washington has accused China of breaking international trade rules by giving in some cases significant subsidies to a range of producers in the country based on the performance of their exports.

The US representative told WTO’s dispute settlement body Wednesday that Washington was “concerned” at the alleged subsidies, in the form of “free or discounted services or through grants” and asked that a panel be created “immediately.”

Washington has previously said its complaint is directed at the Chinese program’s support for seven industries: textiles, advanced materials and metals, light industry, speciality chemicals, medical products, hardware and building materials, and agriculture.

China meanwhile stressed its “steadfast stance on respecting and abiding by the WTO subsidy discipline,” and expressed its disappointment that Washington had asked the global trade body to create a panel, only a week after a round of amicable consultations.

China’s representative insisted the country had gone out of its way to accommodate the US request for consultations, made in February, just a week before China’s Spring Festival national holiday, and “listing 182 documents as the measures at issue.”

“China participated in those consultations with the United States in good faith, with the intention of finding a mutually satisfactory solution,” the representative said, expressing “surprise” and “dissatisfaction” at the US request.

The WTO, which polices global trade accords in an effort to ensure a level playing field for its member economies, creates a panel when parties to a dispute fail to reach an agreement during consultations.

Once created, WTO’s panels of independent trade and legal experts usually take several months to render their decisions.

They can authorize retaliatory trade measures if they rule in favor of a plaintiff.           AFP

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