6 June 2019
U.S. Pushes Back Against Mainland China’s White Paper on Trade War
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Treasury Department issued a joint statement on 3 June rejecting the claims of a 19-page White Paper on the trade war with the United States that was issued a day earlier by mainland China’s State Council Information Office. The White Paper argues that (i) economic and trade friction provoked by the United States damages the interests of both countries and of the wider world, (ii) the United States has backtracked on its commitments in the Sino-U.S. economic and trade consultations, and (iii) mainland China is committed to credible consultations based on equality and mutual benefit. The White Paper referred to U.S. “trade bullying” that harms the world, listed three instances of U.S. backtracking, and said that the United States “should bear the sole and entire responsibility for this severe setback.”
In a swift response, the United States expressed disappointment that mainland China has chosen “to pursue a blame game misrepresenting the nature and history of trade negotiations between the two countries.” The U.S. statement claims that the current impasse began with what it describes as decades of unfair trade practices, including forced technology transfers, a failure to protect U.S. intellectual property rights, and efforts to conduct and support cyber theft from American companies. It summarises the actions taken in the Section 301 process, including a study, public hearings, bi-lateral meetings between the two presidents, multiple rounds of negotiations and multiple tranches of U.S. tariffs imposed on mainland Chinese products, as well as a U.S. World Trade Organisation case against the mainland.
The U.S. statement further argues that the extent of the U.S. bi-lateral goods deficit justified the imposition of additional tariffs but decries what it calls “unjustified tariffs” implemented in retaliation by Beijing. According to the United States, following months of hard work and candid and constructive discussions the parties had reached agreement on a number of important matters but as the final important issues were being wrapped up “the Chinese moved away from previously agreed-upon provisions.” The statement concludes that “our negotiating positions have been consistent throughout these talks, and China back-pedalled on important elements of what the parties had agreed to”, including the need for detailed and enforceable commitments.