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The WTO’s ruling against China is not a victory for either side.

In response to the US dispute settlement lawsuit on import tariff quota management measures for wheat, rice and corn in China in December 2016, the World Trade Organization announced the results of the ruling on Thursday (18th), arguing that there is opacity in China’s practices. Violation of the WTO commitments, but also rejected the US's view that China has the obligation to announce the details of quota allocation and redistribution.




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For trade disputes with other members of the WTO, China has always advocated a proper settlement through the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, proactively prosecuting, safeguarding its own trade interests and WTO rules authority, and actively responding to complaints and respecting and implementing WTO decisions.

It should be pointed out that the WTO's ruling on this Sino-US agricultural dispute settlement lawsuit highlights its important role in maintaining multilateral trade rules, rather than which side of the lawsuit has won.

The multilateral trading system with the WTO as its core has played a central role in promoting global trade development and building an open world economy. Among them, the dispute settlement mechanism is regarded as the "court" in the WTO responsible for adjudicating trade disputes. The purpose is to maintain the balance of members' rights and obligations and to ensure the effective implementation of WTO principles and rules.

At present, the disputes handled by this mechanism have exceeded 500. Although the rulings made are not enforceable, most members can take them seriously and regard their winning or losing results as normal. This is based on respect for the principles of WTO consensus and will not simply be seen as a victory or defeat of a party to the lawsuit.




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Take China as an example. As of April 2018, China has sued 17 cases in the WTO, and has closed 8 cases; 27 cases have been filed, and 23 cases have been closed. The United States has always been the most accused country in the WTO, and many of them have lost their claims. For example, in 2016, the WTO supported a complaint filed by China in 2013, ruling that the United States imposed anti-dumping duties on various industries such as machinery and electronics, light industry, metals and mining, in violation of WTO rules.

What we have to see is that the current WTO dispute settlement mechanism has been seriously affected by US unilateralism and protectionism. Especially under the obstruction of the United States, this mechanism faces the risk of “blackout” because members of the Appellate Body cannot be updated in time. Some experts warn that once this result occurs, global trade governance will fall back 20 years.

Of course, the WTO also needs to keep pace with the times, reform and improve, and many countries have put forward proposals. For example, the EU issued the "WTO Modernization Concept Document", and the US, Europe and Japan indicated that they should promote "three-way cooperation" in WTO reform. China announced the five principles of the three principles of WTO reform in November last year. Its core is to firmly safeguard the rules-based multilateral trading system, resist protectionism, and let the WTO play its role better.

The Sino-US agricultural dispute settlement lawsuit is just another case for responding to China. As the former WTO Director-General Lamy said, members' understanding of the rules is sometimes controversial, and no WTO member's performance is perfect. His score for China's performance after joining the WTO is A+. China will seriously study the results of the ruling made by the WTO expert group.




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China will take the opportunity to resolve trade disputes with other members in the WTO framework, constantly adjust and improve relevant practices, improve the level of commitment, and in the process, extensively discuss with members to jointly promote WTO reform and enhance its Authoritative and effective, it makes it better to maintain free trade and the multilateral trading system.