CHINA has launched legal action against the EU and the US for failing to recognise it has a market economy.
The move is likely to fuel worsening relations, particularly with the US after President-elect Donald Trump has been engaging in a war of words with Beijing, criticising its military build-up in the South China Sea as well as pointing the finger over the country’s alleged failure to rein in North Korea.
China’s leaders have been seeking official market economy status with the World Trade Organisation.
Not only is it seen as a symbolic milestone in the transformation of the country’s economy, but it would also mean it was harder for other countries to hit the communist state with anti-dumping tariffs on it over cheap Chinese imports.
China had slapped a deadline of December 11 for the EU and the US to give Beijing a market economy, according to the terms of its agreement with the WTO.
Only one day after the expiry of the deadline, the WTO confirmed on Monday that China had launched a dispute resolution case against the EU and the U.S. in an instant riposte to their failure to change their anti-dumping methodology in time.
An EU spokesperson said: “We regret that China is launching this dispute now despite the fact that the Commission has already made a proposal to amend the legislation in question.
“We will now study the request and accept, as usual, China’s request to enter into consultations.”
Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said: “China’s lawful rights and interests must be maintained and the country reserves the right to take further action. Several WTO members have failed to fulfil their obligations.”
A dispute at the WTO initially has to pass through a consultation phase where representatives of China, the EU and the US meet to discuss the case behind closed doors.
Following the consultations, China can request a panel to be set up.
The EU and the US have the right to refuse the request for such panel once, causing a delay.
They are then obliged to accept a second request.
Van Bael & Bellis, a Brussels-based law firm dealing with trade disputes, puts 2020 or 2021 as likely dates for the end of the cases.
(Source : express.co.uk)