President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to withdraw recognition of the special “developing nation” status of China and other relatively rich countries at the World Trade Organization unless changes are made to the body’s rules.
The salvo fell the week before top US trade officials are due to return to China to rekindle trade talks that acrimoniously collapsed in May.
Trump said in a statement the global trade body uses “an outdated dichotomy between developed and developing countries that has allowed some WTO members to gain unfair advantages.”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,” the statement said.
While the statement points to multiple countries that benefit from the designation, it focuses mostly on China.
“The WTO is BROKEN when the world’s RICHEST countries claim to be developing countries to avoid WTO rules and get special treatment. NO more!!! Today I directed the U.S. Trade Representative to take action so that countries stop CHEATING the system at the expense of the USA!,” Trump said on Twitter.
The statement notes that seven of the 10 wealthiest economies in the world claim developing country status, as do Mexico, South Korea, and Turkey, which are members of the Group of 20 leading economies.
Trump’s order directs the US Trade Representative’s office to “use all available means to secure changes at the WTO,” with the cooperation of other countries where possible.
It is unclear how the measure would change US policy but it likely would open the door to even more retaliatory tariffs against China and other countries.
– ‘Cannot go unchecked’ –
“When the wealthiest economies claim developing country status, they harm not only other developed economies but also economies that truly require special and differential treatment,” the statement said, and that “cannot continue to go unchecked.”
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.
The Trump administration has long complained that WTO rules are unfair to the United States, and has nearly throttled key WTO proceedings by refusing to name new members of the appellate body for the dispute settlement system.
In fact, the United States has won the majority of complaints it has file with the WTO.
And other governments, including the European Union, share concerns about China’s status in the WTO, refusing to recognize China as a market economy by the end of 2016.
The Trump administration also has rolled out new complaints against China using domestic trade rules almost weekly, covering a host of goods as varied as steel, industrial chemicals and rubber bands, imposing tariffs of 200 percent and more.
We should look closely at Britain’s decision to elect a man so renowned for his untrustworthiness
In previous British elections, to say that trust was the main issue would have meant simply that trust is the trump card – whichever leader or party could secure most trust would win. Now, the emerging question about trust is whether it even matters anymore.
This is at least partly because Brexit has deepened the crisis of trust. The 2019 election was always going to be about Brexit – and not only because some people would vote according to where they stood on the matter. It was also because the emotional turbulence initiated by the 2016 referendum continues to dominate national politics in a more general way.
Here are 9 things people say about exercise that are utter hogwash
It can be hard to include exercise in our busy lives, despite the best of intentions. There are a lot of reasons people don’t exercise, and a lot of misconceptions about exercise. Here are nine common misconceptions about exercise and what research actually tells us.
1. I was fit once, so I don’t need to exerciseUnfortunately, the health benefits of exercise won’t last if you don’t sustain your exercise regime. A significant reduction or drop out can cause a marked loss of initial benefits, such as cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Consistency is the key. Mix it up and keep it interesting as maintaining high levels of physical activity throughout your life is associated with the best health outcomes.
How Boris Johnson’s Conservatives swept to election victory in Labour heartlands
Welcome to a whole new political world. The UK general election of 2019 has delivered a seismic shift in the balance of the country’s politics, the consequences of which are very hard, if not impossible to predict. But what’s clear is that Boris Johnson has broken the legislative deadlock with regard to Europe and will now wield power in a manner that his recent predecessors could only have dreamed of.
To this extent the political system appears to have worked – the people have spoken. Clearly they want to “get Brexit done”, but the result also suggests the existence of a major disconnect between the UK’s main opposition Labour party and a big chunk of its base.