Saudi Arabia, Russia and China give EU trade reforms thumbs down at WTO

World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general Roberto Azevedo pictured at the group's headquarters in Geneva. New EU anti-dumping rules got a rough ride at the WTO.
Updated 26 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia, Russia and China give EU trade reforms thumbs down at WTO

  • China is suing US and EU at WTO
  • Kingdom warns new rules are concerning

The EU’s new rules against countries dumping cheap goods on its market got a rough ride at a World Trade Organization meeting, where China, Russia and Saudi Arabia led a chorus of disapproval, a trade official said on Thursday.

The EU, which is in a major dispute with China about the fairness of Chinese pricing, introduced rules last December that allow it to take into account “significant distortions” in prices caused by government intervention.

A Chinese trade official told the WTO’s anti-dumping committee that Beijing had deep concerns about the new methodology, saying it would damage the WTO’s anti-dumping system and increase uncertainty for exporters, an official who attended the meeting said.

China argued that the concept of “significant distortion” did not exist under WTO rules, and the EU should base its dumping investigations on domestic prices in countries of origin, such as China.

The EU reformed its rules in the hope they would allow it to keep shielding its markets from cheap Chinese imports while fending off a Chinese legal challenge at the WTO.
China said that when it joined the WTO in 2001, the other member countries agreed that after 15 years they would treat it as a market economy, taking its prices at face value.

But the US and the EU have refused, saying China still subsidises some industries, such as steel and aluminum, which have massive overcapacity and spew vast supplies onto the world market, making it impossible for others to compete.

China is suing both the US and the EU at the WTO to try to force them to change their rules.

Legal experts say the dispute is one of the most important in the 23-year history of the WTO, because it pits the major trading blocs against each other with fundamentally opposing views of how the global trade rules should work.

In the WTO committee meeting, Saudi Arabia said the new rules were very concerning, and it challenged the EU to explain how EU authorities could ensure a fair and objective assessment of “significant distortion.”

Russia said the EU rules violated the WTO rulebook and certain aspects were unclear and created great uncertainty for exporters. Bahrain, Argentina, Kazakhstan and Oman also expressed concerns.

But a US trade official said the discussion showed that appropriate tools were available within the WTO to address distortions affecting international trade.


UK Treasury chief vows to quit if Boris Johnson becomes PM

Updated 21 July 2019
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UK Treasury chief vows to quit if Boris Johnson becomes PM

  • Hammond is the third minister within a week to quit or say they will resign in order to try to block a no-deal Brexit
  • Johnson is the strong favorite to win a two-person runoff to lead the Conservative Party and the country

LONDON: British Treasury chief Philip Hammond says he will quit if — as widely expected — Boris Johnson becomes prime minister this week.
Hammond said Sunday that Johnson’s vow to take the UK out of the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal is “not something that I could ever sign up to.”
He is the third minister within a week to quit or say they will resign in order to try to block a no-deal Brexit. Economists say leaving the EU without a deal would cause Britain economic turmoil.
Johnson is the strong favorite to win a two-person runoff to lead the Conservative Party and the country. The winner is being announced Tuesday, with the victor taking over from Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.