US Campaign Rhetoric and the Distortionary Chinese Trade Practices that Fuel It

By Lisa Schaefer

Abstract: Controversy over China’s trade policies was a key battleground issue in the 2012 US presidential election, and remains an economic concern today. China’s transition economy arguably affords its exporters with unique advantages in international trade, which provokes retaliatory tariffs against its exports and trade disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Though in need of reform, the WTO-sanctioned trade remedy measures strive to protect its members against purported unfairness in the pricing of exports. Some critics contend that Chinese trade practices are systematically unfair to its trading partners, while others claim China is discriminated against in the international trading system. This paper addresses the political and economic factors that shape China’s experiences confronting trade remedy measures; argues that a negotiated settlement between the US and China is unlikely; and describes strategies used by Chinese policymakers to discipline the use of trade remedies against its exports.

About the Author
Lisa Schaefer is a Master’s candidate in International Trade and Investment Policy at the Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, DC. In the past few years, her areas of research have been on US trade policy, Argentina’s macroeconomic restrictions to trade and China’s challenges to world trade.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey via Flickr

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