Sunday, February 24, 2013

WTO dispute settlement and China-US trading relations

The dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO has been hailed as the crown jewel of the multilateral system providing an avenue for trading partners to resolve intricate and complex trade disputes within a rule based system. It is often compared to the more 'political' power based negotiation process wherein relative economic strengths and other factors influence decision making.

A good insight into China-US trading relations in the context of their disputes at the WTO is found in this piece by Ka Zeng which essentially argues how the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO has averted any major trade war between the two trading superpowers.It has also been used by both the countries effectively to pursue their national interests.
"All this suggests that the WTO DSM has become the primary means for handling politically salient issues for both countries.  If this is the case, the growing utilization of the DSM in the past decade may have helped to channel the tensions surrounding the bilateral trade relationship and prevented intense interest group pressure from impairing overall U.S.-China trade relations. In the absence of the DSM, it is possible that major bilateral trade disputes resulting from China’s ever-growing trade surplus with the U.S. and allegations of the undervaluation of the Chinese currency could have generated far more acrimony and tensions in bilateral economic relations."
Her full article on this interesting aspect of China-U.S trading relations is found here

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