China’s slams US ‘arrogance’ on WTO status

Trump’s memo said the WTO, which operates a global system of trade rules and settles disputes, uses “an outdated dichotomy between developed and developing countries that has allowed some WTO members to gain unfair advantages.” (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019
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China’s slams US ‘arrogance’ on WTO status

  • Trump’s WTO memo is widely seen as a swipe at China

BEIJING: China Monday said the US threat to pull recognition of China’s “developing nation” status at the World Trade Organization showed its “arrogance and selfishness,” ahead of crucial trade talks this week.
The reaction followed a memo issued on Friday by President Donald Trump to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, stressing that some countries were enjoying lenient treatment by “improperly” identifying themselves as developing economies.
The memo is widely seen as a swipe at China.
The Trump administration’s demand “further exposed its wayward arrogance and selfishness,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing Monday.
One or a few countries “should not have the final say” on which nations should be categorized as developing countries, Hua said.
She insisted that China needs to maintain its status as a developing economy to “achieve real trade fairness.”
Trump’s memo said the WTO, which operates a global system of trade rules and settles disputes, uses “an outdated dichotomy between developed and developing countries that has allowed some WTO members to gain unfair advantages.”
Without “substantial progress” to reform WTO rules within 90 days, Washington will no longer treat as a developing country any WTO member “improperly declaring itself a developing country and inappropriately seeking the benefit of flexibilities in WTO rules and negotiations,” said the statement, which focused mostly on China.
The memo came ahead of meetings in Shanghai on Tuesday and Wednesday between US and Chinese negotiators aiming to resolve a trade dispute that has led to tariffs on more than $360 billion worth of two-way trade involving the world’s two largest economies.
Washington “obviously timed the memo to serve as a new bargaining chip” in the trade talks, the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.
“But the tactic of imposing pressure is nothing new to China and has never worked,” it said.
Xinhua added that the US government’s “latest hegemonic attempt” to coerce the WTO “is destined to hit a wall of opposition.”
Developing country status in the WTO allows governments longer timelines for implementing free trade commitments, as well as the ability to protect some domestic industry and maintain subsidies.
But Jennifer Hillman, a former top US trade official who served at the WTO, has said the benefits granted to countries with the special status in most cases has long passed.
The Trump administration has long complained that WTO rules are unfair to the United States, and has nearly throttled significant WTO proceedings by refusing to name new members of the appellate body for the dispute settlement system, which will cease to function later this year.
Despite Trump’s criticisms Washington has, in fact, won the majority of complaints it has filed with the WTO.


Mideast tensions push oil prices toward biggest weekly gain in months

Updated 5 min 37 sec ago

Mideast tensions push oil prices toward biggest weekly gain in months

  • Saudi-led coalition launches military operation north of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah
  • Global markets are also keeping an eye on US-China trade negotiations in Washington

SINGAPORE: Oil prices were on track to jump more than 7 percent this week, their biggest weekly rise in months, as early trading on Friday saw gains extended on fresh Middle East tensions after a key Saudi Arabian supply hub was knocked out in an attack last weekend.
A Saudi-led coalition launched a military operation north of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, as the United States worked with Middle East and European nations to build a coalition to deter Iranian threats after the Saudi attack.
Brent crude is on track to rise about 7.7 percent this week, the biggest weekly gain since January. The front-month November contract was at $64.75 a barrel, up 35 cents, by 0532 GMT.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 51 cents to $58.64 a barrel, set to post a 7.1 percent gain for the week, the largest weekly rise since June.
“The forward curve remains ‘bid’ as traders are hedging that the initial estimates for the duration of repairs (at damaged Saudi facilities), given the complex nature, could well underestimate the time required,” said Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader.
Saudi Arabia’s production dropped by almost half after an attack on Saturday, Sept. 14, crippled a major oil processing facility. Its oil minister has pledged to restore lost production by the end of this month, and bring capacity back to 12 million barrels per day by the end of November.
The United States and Saudi Arabia blame Iran for the assault on Saudi oil facilities. Tehran denies any involvement.
In the United States, meanwhile, torrential rain from Tropical Storm Imelda has forced a major refinery to cut production and to shut a key oil pipeline, terminals and a ship channel in Texas.
Global markets are also keeping an eye on US-China trade negotiations in Washington, as officials from both sides resumed face-to-face talks for the first time in nearly two months on Thursday.