China, EU decry U.S. tariffs, blockage of Appellate Body appointments

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-19 16:51:59|Editor: ZX
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GENEVA, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- China and the European Union (EU), among other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), have 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 that we are seeing, since the last trade policy review, especially during the past year, a different America with severely mismatched power and responsibility."

Recalling the additional tariff measures applied since the beginning of this year by Washington on steel and aluminum, among others, Zhang said that the measures allow "protectionism to be at large" under the pretext of national security, and "bring back to life the ghost of unilateralism that has been dormant for decades."

Zhang also criticized the blockage of the selection of WTO Appellate Body members, warning that the blockage "practically digs out the crown-jewel of the multilateral trading system."

The ambassador said that China, along with the EU and some other members, lately tabled a joint proposal for the reform of the Appellate Body and his country also raised three fundamental principles and five proposals concerning reforms of the WTO.

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 the economic globalization and responsive to the expectations from the global business community," he said.

Marc Vanheukelen, EU Ambassador to the WTO, warned that "the multilateral trading system is in a deep crisis, and the United States is at its epicenter."

"Today, unfortunately, (U.S. protectionist) rhetoric has turned into reality, and the repercussions of tariffs and other restrictions are being felt at the heart of this organization, and more generally in global growth prospects," he said.

Vanheukelen also said the EU deeply regrets the current crisis in the Appellate Body.

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 the 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.

Significant developments that may have an impact on the global trading system are also monitored.

The United States on Monday held the first session of its 14th WTO Trade Policy Review, which will continue on Wednesday.