Bracing for the Hidden Fallout: Systemic Implications of the Sino-US Trade Disputes at a Time of Changing International Trade Paradigms

Author:Jaemin Lee
Position:Professor of Law at Hanyang University School of Law, Korea
Pages:53-79
SUMMARY

Global trading regimes are currently undergoing significant changes. It is most vividly shown in the recent spread of FTAs and the surge of protectionism. These fast changes pose new challenges to many countries in terms of formulating and implementing their respective trade policies. The increasing confrontation between the United States and China in trade sectors now operates as a multiplier... (see full summary)

 
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Sino-US Trade Disputes 53
VI JEAIL 1 (2013)
Jaemin Lee
Global trading regimes are currently undergoing significant changes. It is most
vividly shown in the recent spread of FTAs and the surge of protectionism. These
fast changes pose new challenges to many countries in terms of formulating and
implementing their respective trade policies. The increasing confrontation between the
United States and China in trade sectors now operates as a multiplier and accelerator
of this fast-changing global trade landscape. Recent disputes between the two have
underscored fundamental differences in understandings of the legal framework of
the WTO Agreements and the nature of the obligations as Members, thereby further
raising questions about the reinvigoration of multilateralism. The two countries󼚩
retaliatory initiation of trade disputes against each other also involves third countries
because of legal requirements and other considerations. The Sino-US trade disputes
are thus not merely confrontation between the two largest trading partners; instead
they carry wider systemic implications for both other countries and global trading
regimes in transition.
Keywords
Sino-US Trade Dispute, Doha Development Agenda, FTA, Trade
Paradigm, WTO DSU.
Bracing for the Hidden
Fallout: Systemic
Implications of the Sino-US
Trade Disputes at a Time of
Changing International
Trade Paradigms
Professor of Law at Hanyang University School of Law, Korea. LL.B./LL.M./Ph.D.(SNU), J.D.(Boston College),
LL.M.(Georgetown). The author may be contacted at: jaemin@hanyang.ac.kr / Address: School of Law, Hanyang
University, 17 Haengdang-dong, Sungdong-gu, Seoul 133-791 Korea.
2013-05-27 󱹙󲻹 2:19:52
54 Jaemin Lee
I. Introduction
The United States and China are engaged in trade disputes on many fronts.
1
Some of
the disputes are pending at the dispute settlement proceedings of the World Trade
Organization (󼚬WTO󼚭), while others are addressed bilaterally through respective
domestic proceedings. Trade restriction measures adopted by the United States or
China are readily counterweighted by comparable or similar measures by the other
side. The vicious cycle of measures and countermeasures does not show any sign
of slowing down at the moment and the growing consensus among trade watchers
seems to be that this is just the beginning. In addition, more intense trade disputes,
both quantitatively and qualitatively, are looming on the horizon on almost all trade
fronts.
2
The timing of the Sino-US disputes is particularly noteworthy. The bilateral
disputes are taking place amid the changing paradigm of global trade. The
multilateralism enshrined in the WTO regime is currently at a crossroads with the
impasse of the Doha Development Agenda (󼚬DDA󼚭), while the WTO Members
are actively pursuing various FTAs as an alternative. The surge of trade blocs and
fragmentation of trade regimes are an ominous sign for the continuation and
re-invigoration of multilateralism.
The increase of the Sino-US trade dispute combined with many regional trade
    
world as it operates as a facilitator for the rapid fragmentation of the global trade
regime. As the United States and China are usually the largest trading partners for
many countries, it is not surprising that the trade friction between the two trade giants
affects, for better or worse, the overall trade interests of other countries. If, however,
the Sino-US bilateral disputes somehow create a new global trade environment in
which these other countries are forced to encounter more disputes of their own and
1 See 2010 International Trade Update Proc, available at https://www.law.georgetown.edu/cle/pdfs/227.pdf
(last visited on Mar. 1, 2013); M. Pettis, US-China Trade Relations - The Next Dispute?, Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace, Feb. 17, 2010, available at http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.
cfm?fa=view&id=30975 (last visited on Mar. 1, 2013); A. Mason, US-China Trade Dispute Key Issue at G-20, CBS
EVENING NEWS, Sept. 24, 2009, available at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-5337960.html (last visited
on Mar. 26, 2013).
2 Id. See also Ariana Eunjung Cha, US, China Locked in Trade Disputes, WASH. POST, Jan. 4, 2010, available at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/03/AR2010010301961.html (last visited on Mar.
1, 2013). As for the increasing intensity of disputes between the United States and China through the WTO dispute
settlement system and the relevant background, see C. Bown, US-China Trade Conflicts and Future of the WTO, 33
(1) FLETCHER FORUM WORLD AFF. 28-32 (2009).
2013-05-27 󱹙󲻹 2:19:53

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