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Improved Dispute Mechanism Discussed

The Ministry of Commerce is considering an amendment on how it responds when anti-dumping charges are slapped on Chinese products.

This is being discussed at a two-day national fair trade conference hosted by the ministry, taking place in the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan Province.

It is expected that the amended rule being discussed at the conference will provide for a more efficient response when such measures are imposed on China, which is currently a major victim of anti-dumping charges.

The new system will involve not only the ministry, but also provincial foreign trade watchdogs and intermediary organizations and enterprises.

According to the ministry's statistics, 18 investigations on anti-dumping, safeguard, and specific safeguard measures targeting Chinese products were filed in the first five months of this year, involving a total value of US$550 million.

This continued last year's trend. There were 59 cases in 2003, involving a value of US$2.2 billion, a rise of 178 percent year-on-year.

Chinese products have been the target of 637 such cases with US$18.6 billion since China's reform and opening-up began in 1978.

The rule under discussion was implemented on December 11, 2001, the day China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), but the situation has changed greatly since then.

The ministry is planning to add more chapters to the rule, including the definition on responding subjects, the alert system and procedure and the promotion of the response.

Vice-Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said China has entered a period of increasing trade friction because of its rising position as a global trader.

China is currently the world's fourth largest export economy, with a total value of US$438.37 billion.

Gao said China has learned how to tackle the cases in a rational manner. "But many improvement are still demanded in China's system for responding to anti-dumping cases, in order to make it more effective and efficient," Gao said.

Many intermediary organizations and companies have made suggestions at the conference on how to improve the response system.

China Textile Import and Export Chamber of Commerce Vice-President Cao Xinyu said related parties are asking for a more timely information delivery on this issue.

"Information about the case usually arrives ten days after it is launched, which made the Chinese side acts very slowly," Cao said.

He suggested China's economic and commercial counsellor's offices should set up direct dialogue mechanisms with related associations.

His suggestion was echoed by many representatives at the meeting, who said that making a quick responses to foreign anti-dumping cases is a big headache.

For example, notification of an anti-dumping lawsuit on Chinese spectacles did not arrive at companies 20 days after it was launched.

Representatives also proposed the rule should offer favorable treatment to companies responding to anti-dumping cases.

Increasing numbers of companies have answered the charges. According to the provincial authority in Guangdong Province, 92 percent of affected companies responded to the charge last year, compared with 44 percent in 2002.

But companies complained that some still refused to answer the case because of the expense, and just wait for favorable rulings.

Yan Bangsong, vice-president of China Minerals, Metals and Chemical Products Chamber of Commerce, said he expected the amendment would find a way to punish these companies in line with WTO principles.

(China Daily June 4, 2004)

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