(Adds background on Chinese trade practices, U.S. trade policy
stance, quote from Malmstrom)
By Eliana Raszewski and Luc Cohen
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The European Union, United
States and Japan will issue a joint statement on Tuesday
criticizing countries with too much factory capacity, though it
will not directly name China, a major source of concern, EU
Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.
The move is a rare show of solidarity with the United States
at a World Trade Organization meeting dominated by differences
over U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" trade agenda
and U.S. efforts to stall the appointment of WTO judges.
It reflected growing frustration among major industrial
countries over China's trade practices ranging from subsidies
for state-owned enterprises to technology transfer requirements
for foreign companies, along with concerns that other developing
countries will follow suit.
Malmstrom said on Tuesday that China's subsidizing of its
industry, including aluminum and steel, was flooding global
markets and hurting European workers in a "very, very dramatic"
"There's no secret that we think that China is a big sinner
here, but there are other countries that are as well," Malmstrom
told reporters on the sidelines of a business forum parallel to
the WTO event on Tuesday.
In the opening session of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
ministerial conference in Buenos Aires on Monday, the United
States and Japan criticized a lack of transparency in some WTO
members' trade practices, a thinly veiled swipe at China.
China appealed for members to "join hands" and uphold WTO
rules to protect globalization in the face of rising
'PLAY BY THE RULES'
Washington, Brussels and Tokyo have previously raised
complaints about China's excess production capacity in a number
of industrial sectors that has pushed down world prices and
caused layoffs elsewhere.
The United States recently sided with the EU in arguing that
such distortions mean the WTO should not grant China market
economy status, a move that would severely weaken their trade
The EU's and Japan's willingness to cooperate with the trump
administration comes despite disagreements over the role of the
WTO and the future of multilateral trade deals.
Trump has expressed his preference for bilateral
negotiations, and his trade rhetoric has cast a cloud over the
Trump's administration is considering several unilateral
tariff actions on steel, aluminum and China's intellectual
property practices likely to draw disputes from WTO members.
Malmstrom said Tuesday that the three members would work
"within the WTO" to address the overcapacity issue.
"We have been...reaching out to China to tell them they
really must start playing by the rules," she told reporters.
On Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said
the WTO was losing its focus on negotiations in favor of
litigation and was granting too many exceptions to countries
that claimed developing economy status.
Delegates from the EU and Japan made stronger defenses of
globalization and the multilateral system, despite implicit
criticisms of Chinese practices.
(Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Susan Thomas
and Andrew Hay)
First Published: 2017-12-12 16:24:52
Updated 2017-12-12 19:44:08
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