China’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization Zhang Xiangchen pointed out at the WTO General Council meeting in Geneva on the 8th that the recent US-based “aluminum 232” tariff measures for steel and aluminum are not based on “national security” considerations, but rather on domestic industries. The protection act is essentially a trade protection measure.
Zhang Xiangchen stated that the actual limited imports of steel and aluminum tariffs by the United States accounted for only about 5% of the U.S. domestic steel consumption, which was not related to maintaining the so-called "national security." He cited the U.S. Department of Commerce’s investigation report and the U.S. Department of Defense data that the U.S. steel imports accounted for only 16% of its domestic consumption, while nearly 70% of the import volume came from members who were temporarily or permanently exempted from the United States. The US defense industry needs only 3% of its domestic consumption of steel, and its domestic steel production is 28 times that of its defense industry.
Zhang Xiangchen pointed out that the United States seeks "voluntary export restrictions" that are prohibited by the WTO rules in negotiations with other members on the exemption of steel and aluminum tariffs. This is a clear violation of the WTO rules and allows global trade to return to the quota era. It is clearly a reversal of history.
The so-called “voluntary export restrictions” means that the exporting country automatically limits the export quantity or amount of certain commodities within a certain period of time under the requirements or pressure of the importing country. If the exporting country exceeds the limit, it will stop exporting itself.
Zhang Xiangchen reiterated China's view that the recent steel-aluminum tariff measures imposed by the United States have seriously disrupted the international trade order and impaired the multilateral trading system, which is obviously discriminatory and has a serious lack of transparency. China recently submitted a request for consultations to the United States under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism, not only to safeguard China’s own export interests, but also to safeguard the basic principles and values of the WTO. China urges all members to urge the United States to abide by its WTO obligations and immediately withdraw its recently implemented steel and aluminum tariffs and maintain a normal international trade order.
According to the Chinese request, the meeting of the day also included the selection of members of the WTO Appellate Body and the “301 clause” of the United States in the discussion agenda. Zhang Xiangchen stated that the WTO is facing severe challenges. China hopes to discuss with other members to meet challenges and prevent unilateralism and trade protectionism from disrupting the multilateral trading system and causing interference with international trade.