The slack economy of the United States has led to a rising sentiment of trade protectionism, which may pose a threat to the multilateral trading system, the Chinese ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) warned on Monday.
"The US economic fatigue has led to a significant retrogression in domestic attitude towards multilateral trade liberalization, a rising voice for protection of domestic industries and a reduction to further trade reform," said Sun Zhenyu at a WTO review of the US trade policies.
Sun cited the failure of the Congress to renew the Trade Promotion Authority and the adoption of a new Farm Bill maintaining enormous agricultural subsidies as two examples of the rising US protectionism.
Those measures have sent very negative signals at this critical juncture of the Doha Round trade opening negotiations, he said.
He added that WTO members were now doubting the leadership and political will of the United States to contribute in the Doha Round negotiations, which have yielded no agreement in the past six years.
At the meeting, Sun also raised concerns about the continuous abuse by the US of trade remedy measures.
A WTO report noted that at the end of 2007, 224 definitive measures were in effect in the United States and the average duration of those measures was some 11 years with the oldest one dating back as from 1973.
China and other WTO members are also feeling disappointment about "the multiple delays of and reluctance" of the United States to comply with WTO rulings on trade disputes, Sun added.
He said the protectionist tendency in the US "constitutes an obvious contradiction to its status as the biggest beneficiary and the most active cheer-leader for multilateral trade liberalization. "
"China therefore is very much concerned that, if this tendency of protectionism grows unchecked, it may become a threat to the global trade and the multilateral trading system," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 10, 2008)