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18 Dec, 2018 08:40

US protectionism leading global trade into ‘deep crisis’ – EU

US protectionism leading global trade into ‘deep crisis’ – EU

The EU ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has lambasted Washington's tariffs and protectionist trade policy. He called the US the “epicenter” of the crisis in the multilateral trading system.

“The multilateral trading system is in a deep crisis and the United States is at its epicenter," EU ambassador Marс Vanheukelen said on Monday as he was addressing the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting to review US trade policies. The envoy also decried limitations on the US procurement market, in particular through “Buy American” legislation.

The US has been at the forefront of blaming the WTO for mishaps, saying it treats America unfairly in global trade and even threatening to pull out of the organization. In apparent response to US president Donald Trump’s calls to reform the WTO, Vanheukelen urged Washington to engage in talks on concrete proposals.

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While several cases against US protectionism have already piled up in the WTO, the organization itself is believed to face an institutional crisis, as agreed by G20 leaders. During the summit in Argentina, the world powers agreed that the organization definitely needs changes and improvement to continue playing a role in the global trade system.

The EU representative was not alone in his criticism of Washington's polices during the meeting, as Japan and Switzerland also blasted the US for justifying its steel and aluminum tariffs using the national security exemption. The Trump administration slapped the European Union with 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum exports in June, prompting the EU to hit back with retaliatory measures and impose 25 percent import tariffs on a range of American products. The bloc also opened legal proceedings against the US in the WTO.

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More heated words were exchanged between the US and China, engaged in trade row of their own. US envoy, Dennis Shea, echoed Trump’s stance on the WTO, accusing it of being unable to handle “the fundamental challenge posed by China” and unwilling to target Beijing for “unfair competitive practices.”

The statement was ridiculed by his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Xiangchen, who said Washington is trying to “bringing back to life the ghost of unilateralism that has been dormant for decades.”

“Whether it is a small family or an international organization, a top dog should act like a top dog,” Zhang said as cited by AP, in an apparent reference to the US. “It cannot only see a narrow spectrum of its own self-interest, and it certainly should not do whatever it wishes at the sacrifice of the others.”

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